UFO Testament

Raymond E. Fowler. UFO Testament: Anatomy of an Abductee. Writer's Showcase, 2002.

Ray Fowler says that this paranormal autobiography is his last book before he gets out of ufology for good, under family pressure. This situation has come about because not content with placing UFO investigations above his children's visits to the zoo, Ray has become convinced he is an abductee, and every little odd thing that happens to him is marshalled as evidence for this. Every hypnogogic hallucination, every time he gets a nosebleed or a scar from scratching himself in his sleep, or feels tense and unable to sleep, is further "evidence". Needless to say under hypnotic regression Ray recalls some classic abduction experiences.

That is not to say that some of the experiences he recounts are not genuinely odd and puzzling, though one has to wonder to what extent they are real memories, or memory-like fantasies. Memory is not something fixed and static and it can be reconstituted to suit various needs. Given his background of odd experiences, obsessional behaviour and intense religiosity, it would certainly seem possible that Fowler has some form of temporal lobe lability, and that this might run in the family.

Perceptive readers will also note the theme of status inconsistency, Fowler records he had a high IQ, but failed in his high school and left without many qualifications. Were there also tensions between his working-class background, and that of a his wife, a middle class Englishwomen? There is also the theme of the many years of conflict between his former fundamentalist Christianity and his own father's occultist beliefs, as recorded in one of his earlier books. Ray is now taking on his father's role, and his own children are reacting in the same negative fashion. The result is a portrait of someone who seems on the edge of a complete breakdown, the similarities with those who fell under the spell of the childhood sexual abuse/multiple personality disorder industry are striking.

In the middle of the book are accounts of some of the UFO cases investigated by Fowler in the 1960s and 1970s, which remind us why ufology, before it became obsessed with crashed flying saucers and alien abductions. interested a number of scientists. There are certainly cases here which if they occurred exactly as reported would be very puzzling indeed. But then perhaps we ought to remember Besterman's dictum "no serious student of the paranormal has the right to accept the unsupported testimony of anyone whatsoever" in these matters. -- Peter Rogerson. Originally published in Magonia 82, August 2003

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