Dangerous Games

Philip J. Klass. UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game. Prometheus Books, 1988.

In the course of his book, Philip Klass quotes from Budd Hopkins’ Intruders: “These fellow human beings who have endured such profoundly unsettling, unfathomable truly alien experiences ... are in every sense of the word, victims.” 

"Indeed they are,' Klass agrees, adding, "but needlessly so.” To put us in the picture he takes us rapidly through the history of UFO reports, starting with the Hill case then via the Pascagoula and Walton cases. Klass has elsewhere demonstrated that there are serious grounds for not taking any of them at face value.</ Most of his present book is therefore directed at the present outbreak, best known to the public through Hopkins' and Strieber's books. Strieber's story stands or falls by his personal credibility.

Klass has little difficulty in showing from Strieber's own words how little credibility we can give a man who by his own admission has not only told lies, but told them publicly, on many occasions in the past. This exhibitionist compulsion both to lie and to admit lying would itself be sufficient to make us question  both his story and the cited testimony of an expert psychiatrist: "I see no evidence of an anxiety state, mind disorder or personality disorder". Klass provides many other instances which make it evident to him - as it must do to any open-minded reader of Communion - that Strieber is a confused and unstable person, whose story it would be absurd to take at face value. 
What about Hopkins? After approving my assessment of the abductees at the 1987 Washington Conference as being subconsciously motivated by psychological need, Klass reasonably reproaches me for not going on to consider "the possible 'psychological needs’ of abductionists like Hopkins and Jacobs, who seem to revel in the discovery of new 'victims’."  

Phil Klass
He finds no difficulty in finding innumerable instances in Hopkins utterances and writings of tendentious conduct, whether it be in the use he makes of his witnesses' testimony or the way he interprets the results of his investigations, or the way his handles the witness him/herself - in particular the 'buddy' system which Hopkins believes gives the witness much-needed emotional support, but which Klass sees as more likely to cause the witness to embroider and hype up his/her story. His conclusions is that Hopkins, Jacobs and their kind are themselves spreading the epidemic they profess to be treating: "In my opinion, that fear and uncertainty is the completely unnecessary product of Hopkins own UFO fantasies which he unwittingly implants in his subjects' minds." 

Klass is concerned too about the uncritical reception given to Hopkins' work by ufologists, notably by Jacobs, who from being a respected historian of the UFO phenomenon has become "caught up in the excitement of his new, active role as an 'abductionist'" In contrast Klass chides American ufologists for dismissing contemptuously  the work of Alvin Lawson, whose' imaginary contactee' experiment he rightly sees as of the greatest importance for our understanding of the abduction phenomenon. 

"I found not a single instance of unfairness or exaggeration in his book,
and I am happy to endorse every word he writes"

Klass's ability to distinguish the underlying currents of personal belief our is further displayed in the affectionate respect he accords to Leo Sprinkle, who hosts annual contactee conferences at his University of Wyoming at Laramie. While he is far from sharing Sprinkles' views, he notes with amusement that: “… the ufonauts who allegedly abduct [Sprinkle's] subjects are a much more benign breed that doesn't engage in the sort of terrible physical indignities Hopkins reports Is it possible that two basically different types of ufonauts are visiting earth - a warm, gentle type whose victims later seek out Sprinkle, and a more cruel breed whose victims seek counsel from Hopkins ... ? Or is it possible that the character of the alleged experience, .. reflects not only the personal UFO beliefs of the abductionist  ... but also some elements of his personality as well?" 

Klass admits "this is pure speculation", but I have no doubt that he is right. I have attended one of Sprinkle's Rocky Mountain Conferences, and found him a delightful and sympathetic person, those support is evidently of great value to his abductee delegates, whether or not they truly underwent the experiences they report." But then, if Sprinkle is a believer; he is also a professionally trained psychologist and counsellor. 

Hopkins professes a sincere concern for his subjects. But it is Klass whose concern is more realistically founded. He quotes Hopkins as saying he has never found details in any abduction report to indicate the ufonauts are malevolent, and comments: "I can conceive of no more malevolent act than removing a flesh sample from a young child that would leave a life-long scar, impregnating a 13-year-old, or removing a woman's unborn child.” 

This is a concerned book, but it is at the same lime a calmly reasoned study: every conclusion is founded, not on any a priori ideas that Klass himself may hold, but on what the abductees and abductionists have actually said, written and done. Klass has a right to be angry at what Hopkins, Jacobs and Co. are doing to their witnesses, but I found not a single instance of unfairness or exaggeration in his book, and I am happy both to endorse every word he writes and to recommend it as required reading, not only for everyone involved in trying to understand the UFO phenomenon, but for everyone who seeks to understand why people behave the way they do -- Hilary Evans, from Magonia 31, November 1988. 

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