Nigel Watson. The Alien Deception: an Exploration of the Alien Abduction Phenomenon. YouWriteOn.com, 2009. Reviewed by Peter Rogerson.
The sensation-seeking reader who is beguiled by the title into thinking that this book is promoting some sort of extraterrestrial conspiracy theory will be sadly disappointed, for it is a detailed and sober analysis of the rise of the abduction myth.
Nigel starts with the Hill abduction, and then draws in the various threads which led to it. He chronicles the rise of beliefs in extraterrestrial flying saucers, the rise of the idea of contacting their pilots in the contactees and contactee groups of the 1950s, and the gradual rise of the abduction stories.
He sees predecessors of these in the airship tales of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (a subject of which he has made a special study), when tales of encounters and in some cases abductions by airship crews developed. These themes developed through popular culture, particularly film (Nigel in another incarnation is a film critic). But they are also based on other themes which Nigel examines in great detail, the idea of being taken by the ‘other’ in fairy-lore, where tales continue into the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Nigel gives some examples of these. There also roots in what were known as captivity narratives, tales told by ‘survivors’ of capture exotic human groups (Native Americans in America, Barbary pirates in Europe). Through this weaving, rather than a straightforward chronological narrative, Nigel shows how all these themes influenced one another and gave rise to the modern corpus.
Nigel examines these modern stories, and notes that that is exactly what they are, stories, often fashioned by third parties such as abduction hunters out of masses of confused "testimony" often produced under hypnotic regression. Of actual hard evidence there is none (there is, for example, always some reason or other why abductions are never caught on video or CCTV though various attempts to do this have been tried. Though supporters of exotic explanations can always find some excuse for this, there is no evidence to compel us to accept their kind of explanation, and plenty to make us lean towards a psycho-social interpretation.
Many of the arguments in this book will, of course, be familiar to long-time Magonia readers, indeed it might well be regarded as the book of the Magonia position on such subjects, but for some readers this will be a new and challenging interpretation.
This is an important book, and one which I recommend (but I would, wouldn't I, as Nigel quotes from quite a few of my articles?); though I recognise that there are various features in the book’s production (my copy is unpaginated) which might be make it less appealing than it should be, and perhaps should act as a warning about the pitfalls of self publishing, although given how Nigel was let down by a variety of publishers over the years of the book’s gestation, I can see why he chose that road).