Tag Archives: Betty and Barney Hill

(Some) UFO History

It’s About Time

Ghost Rocket

     70 years. That’s how long it’s been since intelligence analysts coined the term “ghost rockets” for select reports of aerial phenomena. Some UFO researchers eventually attributed the sightings to extraterrestrial visitation, a remarkably unsupported conclusion.

69 years. That’s the amount of time since Kenneth Arnold reported seeing multiple unidentified flying objects while involved in an investigation of what turned out to be an extremely suspicious UFO case.

Jack Brewer
By Jack Brewer

69 years is also the time since Project Seal, which had actually been discontinued, was misrepresented to the press as an ongoing top secret operation involving an airborne super weapon on the scale of the atomic bomb. Articles about the Arnold sighting and what would later prove to be the false weapons development story were in at least one instance published on the same newspaper page.

It’s also been 69 years since the Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release stating the 509th Operations Group recovered a “flying disc,” quickly followed by a second statement advising a “weather balloon” was retrieved. The story went on to – oh, never mind. Let’s just say decades of unreliable research and unverified claims were followed by a hair brained mummy story and an unpublished debate.

63 years. That’s how long since DCI Allen Dulles formally green lighted MKULTRA, a behavior modification project consisting of torture, drugs, hypnosis and involuntary human experimentation. It’s been 53 years since the creation of the KUBARK interrogation manual which contained techniques for use on uncooperative detainees. It was 14 years since the Bush administration began using Guantanamo Bay as a prison, and seven years since ex-Bush official Lawrence B. Wilkerson told the AP most detainees were innocent and there was no meaningful attempt to discriminate who was transported to Cuba for interrogation. Two years is how long since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its 500-page summary of the still classified 6,000-page CIA torture report, and it’s been a little over a year since publication of the Hoffman Report, a document calling into serious question the relationship between the CIA and American Psychological Association. It was about a year ago the ACLU filed a lawsuit against two psychologists who developed “enhanced interrogation techniques” for the Agency, and it’s been a few days since writer and researcher Joseph Hickman, who served in the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion at Guantanamo Bay, stated in an interview that ideas about operations and techniques used at Gitmo came from the MKULTRA program. For more info see the work of Jeffrey Kaye, the reporting of Jason Leopold, and the Seton Hall Law Center paper, Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab, among other sources.

60 years is the length of time it’s been since the FBI launched Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. It was a brutal effort, later acknowledged by the FBI to be “rightfully criticized,” to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” targeted organizations. About a month is how long it’s been since the FBI director questionably chose to formally announce an investigation of a presidential candidate while failing to disclose the Bureau’s quite likely investigation of a rival candidate.

Over half a century. It’s now been 53 years since Dr. Benjamin Simon employed hypnosis with Betty and Barney Hill. In spite of all the material now published by qualified experts establishing hypnosis as extremely ineffective as a memory enhancer – and the fact Dr. Simon was reportedly treating trauma, not conducting a UFO investigation – a segment of the UFO community continues to promote hypnosis-induced testimonies as accurate interpretations of objective reality. It’s been some 40 years since Leo Sprinkle influenced the genre with his hypnotic regressions, 35 years since Budd Hopkins employed hypnosis to establish himself as a supposed UFO expert, and 20+ years since former MUFON Director of Abduction Research John Carpenter covertly provided Robert Bigelow with data, including recordings of hypnosis sessions, from case files of alleged alien abductees in exchange for cash. It was six years ago the story broke that amateur hypnotist David Jacobs instructed Emma Woods during telephone hypnosis sessions to tell people she suffers from multiple personality disorder, consider wearing a chastity belt – that he could send her – as a strategy for dealing with alleged ET-human hybrids, and mail him her unwashed underpants without thinking about it afterwards. Jacobs rather incredibly described himself as an advocate of scientific methodology.

27 years ago Bill Moore, while delivering his keynote speech at the annual MUFON con, told attendees he collaborated with Richard Doty and additional undisclosed members of the intelligence community to publish disinformation directed at Paul Bennewitz and the collective UFO community.

26 years ago half a dozen NSA intel analysts deserted their posts in West Germany and lit out for Florida to protect the world from the Antichrist. Claiming to be under the direction of aliens and Mother Mary, the group, dubbed the Gulf Breeze Six, was eventually taken into custody – under arguably unusual circumstances – literally down the street from where the annual MUFON con had just wrapped up. The late Philip Coppens reported that when the case was declassified, 1400 of its 1600 pages were withheld.

20 years is how long we’ve been tolerating fantastic stories of Skinwalker Ranch since an article ran in the Eugene Register-Guard. The article stated property owner Robert Bigelow declined an interview, while CIA consultant and non-lethal weapons expert John Alexander told the newspaper details of how or why research was being conducted would not be provided. Former ranch owner Terry Sherman said Bigelow had him sign a nondisclosure agreement. It was five years ago James Carrion wrote he and an accompanying scientist were denied access to the ranch, and Bigelow, during dealings with MUFON, moved funds on behalf of an undisclosed financial sponsor, the identity of which was revealed only to John Schuessler, but not to the rest of the MUFON board of directors.

It’s been over three years since UFO disclosure activist Steve Bassett stated, “The goal of the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure is the end of the truth embargo in 2013,” and two years since he announced a “concentrated three-month effort” which, if followed by Congressional hearings, would make it “quite likely the truth embargo will collapse.” It’s been six months since Bassett declared, “We are going to get disclosure this year,” adding that he was 85 percent sure Obama would make an announcement before leaving office.

Two years ago Stephen Greer, who considers himself the father of the disclosure movement, released a crowdfunded film that would once and for all blow the lid off UFO secrecy. A year ago he initiated crowdfunding for a film that would once and for all blow the lid off UFO secrecy.

Last week Gene Steinberg, a podcaster who’s perpetually spinning one suspicious story or other about why everyone should send him their money, wrote his e-list that he’s falling behind on rent for a residence he urged them to send him cash to obtain in the first place about two months ago.

You were right if you chose less than a week on the over/under on how long it would take the new International Association of UAP Researchers (IAUAPR) to stumble into public relations problems. Just a few days after issuing a release about its intentions to up ufology’s game via such activities as accepting and reviewing research papers, the group’s organizer became entangled in social media flame-throwing about proper protocol for conducting professional research.

Right now – as Van Halen put it – Tom DeLonge is promoting work which includes an upcoming film framing the U.S. intelligence community as heroic for its cover-up of alleged aliens. He says he has high level sources in his disclosure camp. Good thing, ’cause we’re obviously an extremely discriminating bunch about where we get our information.

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The Experiencers: Not Your Dad’s Alien Abductees

The Experiencers: Not Your Dad’s Alien Abductees
     They used to be called alien abductees; these days they have rebranded and call themselves experiencers.

The earliest-known alien abduction that was extensively reported was the Betty and Barney Hill case in the 1960s. The New England couple’s experiences were widely reported, published in a book, and a movie was even made about them starring James Earl Jones.

Cheryl Costa

In the ’60s and through the ’70s, the topic was relatively obscure and it was folks like Dr. John Mack who did the early research on the topic, publishing several books of his own.

In the mid 1970’s, some loggers in Snowflake, Arizona had one of their members abducted while they were returning from some logging work in an isolated wooded area. For five days, the whereabouts of Travis Walton was the subject of television coverage and nationwide news stories. When Walton was finally found, he and his team were subjected to integration and lie detector tests, all if which they passed. In 1993, a major film titled Fire In The Sky was released about the abduction events. […]

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Dr. Simon’s Position on Hill Abduction Isn’t New Revelation, Contrary To Forgery Claim

Dr. Simon's Position on Hill Abduction Isn't New Revelation, Contrary To Forgery Claim

It’s a “Forgery,” Marden Charges!!

By Robert Sheaffer

     I frankly didn’t expect to get a lot of response to my posting of December 23, Dr. Simon Reveals his Real Thoughts on the Hill “UFO Abduction” Case. I scanned and posted a 48-page PDF of old letters and documents related to the case, most of them about 40 years old. In a sense, it did not reveal anything new, but merely added more detail to what we already knew: Dr. Benjamin Simon, the Hills’ psychiatrist, did not believe their story of having been abducted on board a flying saucer. I wrote about this as far back as 1981. It was also in my book UFO Sightings, published in 1998. Indeed, if you go all the way back to The Interrupted Journey (1966), the book that started it all, we find Dr. Simon saying [chapter 12] that he found the most tenable explanation for the abduction story to be that the dreams of Mrs. Hill had “assumed the quality of a fantasised experience.” In very diplomatic terms, he is saying, “I don’t buy it.” So the fact that Dr. Simon did not accept the abduction story is not exactly news, or at least it should not be to anyone carefully following both sides of this controversy. (We all know how few people that is.)

I realized that this ran counter to what Kathleen Marden, Betty Hill’s niece and heir to her celebrated Saucer Story, was saying. What I didn’t realize is how fiercely invested Marden is in preserving the illusion that Dr. Simon accepted all of the Hills’ account as being factual, including the abduction story.

On December 26, Marden wrote on her Blog, “Debunkers at it Again.” In it she says:

I received an email message from Andre Skondras on Christmas day informing me that debunker Robert Sheaffer, an associate of Philip Klass and longstanding member of CSI (formerly CSICOP) , had found a never before published letter allegedly written to Klass by Dr. Benjamin Simon. The letter dated March 1, 1976, was mailed by Klass to Betty in 1988. It spoke of Dr. Simon’s intent to “give the true story of the Betty and Barney Hill affair.” It is our opinion that Dr. Simon would not have stated that his untested, unproven conjectures were the truth. He was circumspect and professional in voicing his opinion. The intentions voiced in the letter would have been a violation of his contract with John Fuller and a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Of course, that confidentiality had already been breached, with permission, by the entire commercial enterprise exploiting the Hills’ account, including John Fuller’s 1966 book The Interrupted Journey, and by 1976 the NBC-TV movie dramatizing their account, The UFO Incident. Once a story gets that far out into the public eye, and questions arise about its interpretation, you can’t claim that further discussion constitutes a “violation.” Once the Hills’ sessions with Dr. Simon have become pillars of support for the pro-UFO abduction argument, you can’t release that information selectively.

But there was something in that letter even more upsetting (and ultimately threatening) to Marden’s enterprise than Dr. Simon’s skepticism about the abduction story. In his letter of March 1, 1976 to Philip J. Klass, Dr. Simon stated that “my interest in UFOs was almost entirely on the phenomenon of Barney Hill’s developing racial paranoia which seemed to me to have been the best representation on the matter I have seen.” But that was not Marden’s biggest problem. In the letter Dr. Simon writes:

the Today show [Oct. 20, 1975] was the first time I did this openly to the public at large [state his skepticism about the abduction account]. A few days later I did the same thing on the NBC TV station here, WBZ, which resulted in Betty telephoning and implying that I was lying when I said (what you have said in your book) that Betty’s sister [Marden’s mother] was much interested in UFOs and served as a stimulus, and that the idea of a true visitation had been suggested by her narration in the presence of her sister and her supervisor. She promptly telephoned WBZ and undoubtedly was looking for my appearances and affirmed that her sister was not interested in UFOs and that she had never told the story. Aside from the fact that this is a lie denying her own statements on the tapes we also received a letter from Betty’s mother proclaiming that while I have the right of free speech, I was telling lies abasing her beloved daughter! I revealed the entire story on an hour an a half radio show with Larry Glick.

So that is the true dark heresy, which cannot be admitted: that Betty’s sister was a UFO buff, and encouraged Betty’s fantasies. Every time this was mentioned, Betty Hill (and now Kathleen Marden) would pop up to deny it. But here we have Dr. Simon saying that it’s true.

Marden says that Klass sent a copy of the March 1 letter to him from Dr. Simon to Betty Hill in 1988. I do not know anything about that, but it does not surprise me. Klass and Mrs. Hill exchanged many letters, and he must have sent it along to prove a point he was trying to make. Marden continues:

I had thought about publishing the letter in my book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, with Stanton Friedman, but decided not to, due to uncertainty about the identity of the writer. Betty had marked “Forged Letter!” at the top of the letter.

Now, it does not surprise me one bit that Betty Hill had said such an absurd thing. Mrs. Hill wrote and said many absurd things, and not just about her famous UFO incident. Even Marden admits in her book Captured (p. 275), “After Barney’s death, she turned away from careful, objective evaluation, and with subjective enthusiasm began to identify any lights in the sky as UFOs.” Although as I showed in my review of this book in The Skeptical Inquirer (November/December, 2007), after Barney’s death was not the only time Betty Hill said absurd things about UFOs and aliens. There is much evidence of Betty making wild UFO claims with Barney sitting right beside her.

Taking complete leave of her senses, Marden joins in her aunt’s delusion:

I have had it and other letters that Dr. Simon wrote to Betty examined by several individuals, including three who were close to Dr. Simon, and all believe it is probably a forgery. The style and phraseology were not characteristic of Dr. Simon’s writing. An important piece of information is the fact that Dr. Simon signed a non-competition clause with John Fuller. He could not have legally written a book. It is doubtful that Klass would have known this. Dr. Simon was circumspect with regard to sharing his opinions about the Hill case, and it would have been highly uncharacteristic of him to opine or violate doctor-patient confidentiality.

Between the two of us, Marden and I have recently posted four letters from Dr. Simon, three from me (one of which she claims is a “forgery”), and one from her. As I understand it, she has clarified her claim to mean that only the letter if March 1 is a “forgery,” the others are genuine. If you’re inclined to believe her absurd claim, I urge you to compare the four letters. They are all very similar. None of them are “forgeries.”And in all of them, Dr. Simon maintains the same thing: he believed that the Hills had a “sighting” (as do I), but he believed that the abduction story was not real and came from Betty’s dreams. How did Barney learn about Betty’s dreams? Betty always maintained that she never told him about them. But as Dr. Simon explained on the Larry Glick show, Betty was telling the truth saying that she did not tell him directly. However “she did tell it in Barney’s presence [to Betty’s sister, and her supervisor], and that’s where he got it.”

And to settle the matter of Dr. Simon’s skepticism about the abduction story once and for all: you can go to the wonderful audio archive CEIV An Audio History Of Alien Abduction And Animal Mutilation 1957 1976 compiled by the well-known UFOlogist Wendy Connors. Click on track #21:

Betty Hill and Dr. Benjamin Simon are interviewed on the Today Show to promote the NBC TV movie, the UFO Incident, on October 25, 1975. 08:30

You will hear Dr. Simon describe the abduction account as a “fantasy,” and plainly state, “the abduction did not happen.”

Perhaps Ms. Marden will say that this recording is a “forgery,” too?

If you click #5, you can hear Dr. Simon on Larry Glick’s radio show, saying more “heretical” things.

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Niece of Betty Hill Refutes Newly Uncovered Document(s) Re Famous Abduction Case

Barney & Betty Hill Witness UFO

Debunkers At It Again

By Kathleen Marden
The UFO Chronicles

     I received an email message from Andre Skondras on Christmas day informing me that debunker Robert Sheaffer, an associate of Philip Klass and longstanding member of CSI (formerly CSICOP) , had found a never before published letter allegedly written to Klass by Dr. Benjamin Simon. The letter dated March 1, 1976, was mailed by Klass to Betty in 1988. It spoke of Dr. Simon’s intent to “give the true story of the Betty and Barney Hill affair.” It is our opinion that Dr. Simon would not have stated that his untested, unproven conjectures were the truth. He was circumspect and professional in voicing his opinion. The intentions voiced in the letter would have been a violation of his contract with John Fuller and a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality. I had thought about publishing the letter in my book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, with Stanton Friedman, but decided not to, due to uncertainty about of the identity of the writer. Betty had marked “Forged Letter!” at the top of the letter. I have had it and other letters that Dr. Simon wrote to Betty examined by several individuals, including three who were close to Dr. Simon, and all believe it is probably a forgery. The style and phraseology were not characteristic of Dr. Simon’s writing. An important piece of information is the fact that Dr. Simon signed a non-competition clause with John Fuller. He could not have legally written a book. It is doubtful that Klass would have known this. Dr. Simon was circumspect with regard to sharing his opinions about the Hill case, and it would have been highly uncharacteristic of him to opine or violate doctor-patient confidentiality.

Dr. Simon had always stated that he believed that the Hills had observed the UFO. But he speculated that Betty had repeated her dreams of ET contact while under hypnosis and that Barney (admittedly) overheard her talking about some of the content in her dreams to Walter Webb. All of this is discussed in Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience. Their amnesia extended only to the abduction experience itself. This is the only part of their experience that was recovered for the first time through hypnosis. My comparative analysis of the Hill’s statements under hypnosis is in Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience. I lined up the Hill’s separate statements to Dr. Simon, who reinstated amnesia after each individual’s hypnosis session. Some of their memories were so frightening they couldn’t be introduced into their consciousness immediately. Also, he took steps to avoid the contamination of one’s memories with the others. I was originally skeptical about the abduction events, because some of Betty’s memories were nearly identical to her dreams. Yet, Betty and Barney spoke of information that was not in her dream material and their statements were identical, including the number of non-human entities who were standing in a certain position. Sometimes their correlating statements contradicted the information in her dreams. Also, the ETs in her dreams were not at all like the ETs that she and Barney recalled after they were hypnotized.

With reference to Dr. Simon’s statement on the Larry Glick Show (11/24/1975), he was again circumspect in his statement which I have transcribed as follows: “Barney and Betty gave the same story and this story was precisely like the story that was written by the NICAP investigator. There were no differences between the three. It was the same story they gave consciously. There was no difference. They both shared the same experience all the way. It had me in a bind and I was now faced with certain decisions that I couldn’t make. I was faced with a story that was very fantastic. If this were real and true, I would have to believe that the supposed people were from outer space and having what everyone hopes we’ll have and nobody has proved at all-visitation from outer space. I believed in their honesty. But the story was fantastic and unreal and had to be accepted or rejected.”

We should also be cognizant that the original investigation documents indicate that Barney had conscious, continuous recall of observing figures on the craft that were “somehow not human”. It is documented in Walter Webb’s October 1961 NICAP report. Betty spoke of the figures in her letter to NICAP, dated September 26, 1961.

Betty’s dress was torn in several places and was damaged by a pink powdery substance that she later found on it; the tops of Barney’s best dress shoes were so deeply scraped that he was forced to purchase new shoes; their watches had stopped and never ran again; the leather strap on Barney’s binoculars was severed, and there were shiny spots on the trunk of the car that caused a compass needle to “spin and spin”. Barney developed PTSD symptoms and a bleeding ulcer that would not recede with traditional medical treatment. With regard to Betty’s dress, there was physical evidence that was examined in several scientific laboratories. Phyllis Budinger’s report is on the Black Vault website. I have the other reports, including the first analysis from the University of Cincinnati’s Chemistry Department. Mr. Sheaffer’s speculation was debunked by Budinger.

Dr. Simon was under pressure from his peers with regard to making a decision to go down in history as the doctor who endorsed visitation from outer space or for the outstanding history he had as a neuro-psychiatrist. This information is at John Fuller’s archival collection at Boston University.

I also read a statement that my mother, Betty’s sister, had a serious interest in UFOs prior to the Hill’s event. This is an outright lie. The truth is that my mother observed a large, cigar shaped craft over a field in Kingston, NH, on her Friday night shopping trip back in 1958. It was a multiple witness sighting. She spoke of it immediately after it occurred, to my grandparents and Betty and Barney. Betty thought that it might be real, but Barney did not believe it could have been an unconventional craft. Period! There was no additional discussion until after September 19, 1961. This is confirmed on the hypnosis tapes. On the afternoon of September 20, 1961, I was shocked as I listened to my mother speak with Betty about her close encounter the previous evening. I had never heard my mother speak of a flying saucer prior to this.

In a letter to Betty dated December 8, 1966, Dr. Simon wrote to Betty, “I don’t think any of the unanswered questions will be answered by dialectic discussions between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ and I was happy to see that emphasized by Dr. Hynek in the articles, ‘Are Flying Saucers Real?’ which appeared in the ‘Saturday Evening Post’, December 17, 1966. I fully agree with Dr. Hynek in his point of view–and this is my point of view. Phenomena must be assessed and the excavation of little items such as Mr. Baller’s data which he purported to have received from his daughter does no more than Menzel’s production of phenomena which could explain U.F.O.s, nor Klass’s electronic plasma. While these could explain the phenomena they do not explain your experiences, and I have steadily held that you probably did have an experience with the sighting.”

I feel certain that this information will fall upon CSI members’ deaf ears or perhaps trigger a backlash against me. Their minds are made up. I have no interest in engaging in dialectic discourse in which invective and pejorative are the means of evaluating data. Their mission is and always has been to destroy the Hill’s credibility.

I have copied Betty’s draft of her reply to Phil Klass below. Below that you’ll find a copy a letter with Dr. Simon’s positive statements toward the Hills. Sheaffer requested proof that my statements are true, so here it is. This letter refutes some of the allegations made by debunkers pertaining to Dr. Simon’s Freudian statements about Betty’s intrusive “needle” procedure and the fact that he has never offered an opinion to Fate magazine.

Letter To Phil Klass From Betty Hill 4-22-1988

Letter To Betty Hill From Dr Benjamin Simon (pg 1)  12-8-1966

Letter To Betty Hill From Dr Benjamin Simon (pg 2)  12-8-1966

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Documents Surface Re The Barney & Betty Hill Abduction Case

Barney Hill Viewing UFO

Dr. Simon Reveals his Real Thoughts on the Hill “UFO Abduction” Case

By Robert Sheaffer

     Digging through some boxes in my garage, I came across a collection of papers I had earlier set aside concerning the famous “UFO abduction” case of Betty and Barney Hill, the subject of John Fuller’s 1965 book The Interrupted Journey, as well as the 1975 NBC-TV movie The UFO Incident.

I have just finished scanning 48 pages of these documents, and placed them on my Historical UFO documents page on my website www.debunker.com. They will be of great interest to anyone interested in the Betty and Barney Hill case. These documents contain:

• Correspondence between Dr. Benjamin Simon and arch-skeptic Philip J. Klass.

• Correspondence between Betty Hill and Philip J. Klass, in which she attempts to persuade Klass that her abduction story is factual.

• Correspondence between Dr. Benjamin Simon and yours truly (!!).

• Copies of the supposed “radar evidence” of the Hills’ UFO.

• Betty Hill’s drawing illustrating the relative positions of her “UFO” and what she is calling “Jupiter”, and the moon, establishing that it was actually Jupiter she saw at the beginning of her sighting.

• My skeptical article about the Hill case, published in the August, 1976 issue of Official UFO magazine, and Betty Hill’s letter to the editor about it.

• The complete record of weather observations for Sept. 19-20, 1961 from the Mt Washington Observatory, the highest point in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

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Historic Alien Abduction Event to Receive Hollywood Treatment

Historic Alien Abduction Event to Receive Hollywood Treatment

Robbie Graham By Robbie Graham
Silver Screen Saucers

     Variety reports this week that a classic true-life alien abduction story is to receive the full Hollywood treatment in Captured. Gotham/Principal, producers of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, will team up with Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel of Stellar Productions to tackle what is arguably the most famous case of its kind on record.

Captured will be based on the story of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple from New Hampshire, who claimed to have been taken aboard a UFO and medically examined by its humanoid occupants in September 1961.

Bryce Zabel, a former CEO/chairman of the Television Academy, and Co-Creator of NBC’s Dark Skies TV show (1996-1997) will write the screenplay based on the 2007 non-fiction book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction, by Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden.
This is not the first time Hollywood has engaged with the Hill abduction story. It was notably adapted for television in 1975 as The UFO Incident, a feature-length movie starring Estelle Pasrons and James Earl Jones as Betty and Barney. Bryce Zabel is also no stranger to the story, having already incorporated it as a sub-plot in his Dark Skies series….

Captured will no doubt differ substantially from its 1975 TV treatment, with the producers planning to “make the film in a context of both Cold War paranoia and the country’s struggle over race relations.”

Stellar CEO Jackie Zabel remarked of the Hills:

“They were an interracial couple in a country that still had segregation laws, and they lived in a city that was next door to a bomber base bristling with nuclear weapons. What they knew and why they were targeted will make for a phenomenal film.”

Co-producer Eric Robinson said of the project: “Captured is a true story that explores the birth of modern UFO lore through the eyes of the first Americans to report that they were kidnapped by aliens,” adding, “This is an exciting story that is as intriguing, timely and ripe for adaptation today as it was 54 years ago when this incident occurred.”

Bryce Zabel, who has had a professional fascination with the UFO mystery since the 1980s, wrote Syfy’s first original film – the UFO conspiracy story Official Denial (1993), and, after Dark Skies, worked on the development team for Steven Spielberg’s epic abduction miniseries, Taken. He has since written a number of books exploring UFOs and politics, including Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas?Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas?which won the 2013 Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

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Alien Abduction Story in The Works | FILM

Barney & Betty Hill
Betty and Barney Hill

By Dave McNary

    Gotham/Principal, producers of “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” will team up with Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel via their Stellar Prods. to produce alien-abduction story “Captured.”

The project is based on the story of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple from Portsmouth, N.H., who said they were captured by a UFO on Sept. 19, 1961. The Hills — a black postal clerk and a white social worker — claimed they had been studied by extraterrestrials and then returned to Earth with missing memories that were later retrieved under hypnosis.

Bryce Zabel, creator of the NBC/Sony alien-themed series “Dark Skies,” will write the script. The story is based on the 2007 non-fiction book “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction” by nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman and Betty Hill’s niece Kathleen Marden. […]

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A Secret UFO Symposium in New Hampshire – Betty Hill’s Last Hurrah

A Secret UFO Symposium in New Hampshire

By Robert Sheaffer

This article is reprinted from my Psychic Vibrations column in the Skeptical Inquirer, September/October, 2007. I am reprinting it because it describes an important piece of UFO history that is not otherwise available on-line. It contains some updates and revisions. It also gives me an opportunity to share some great photos of UFO history.

     One of the most curious events to come out of the Great Internet Stock Bubble was the so-called “Encounters at Indian Head” project, whose very existence has been kept unknown to the public until just now [2007]. The symposium was prepared under a shroud of secrecy that was amazingly effective, given the decades-long inability of most top UFOlogists to behave responsibly about anything. Organized by the late Karl Pflock, author of Roswell – Inconvenient Facts and the Will to BelieveRoswell – Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe(Prometheus, 2000) and the British Fortean author Peter Brookesmith, the event was funded by Joe Firmage, the Silicon Valley then-multimillionaire who seems determined do whatever it takes to bring the public into an even higher state of extraterrestrial awareness.

In September of 2000, I traveled from California to New Hampshire to participate in the secret “stealth” UFO symposium. The subject was the alleged 1961 UFO abduction of Betty and Barney Hill, the first such incident reported in the U.S., made famous by John Fuller’s 1966 book The Interrupted JourneyThe Interrupted Journey, then even more so by the 1975 NBC-TV movie, The UFO Incident. Firmage was covering all our expenses, and even paid us for the rights to the papers we were writing, which would be published as a book. The purpose of the symposium was, simply, to find out what really happened to Betty and Barney Hill. The plan was that nobody would find out about even the existence of the symposium until the book containing its published proceedings appeared ‘out of the blue,’ presumably creating a sensation. The symposium came off exactly as planned, a tribute to the skills of the late Karl Pflock. . . .

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Accidental Awareness or Alien Abduction?

Accidental Awareness or Alien Abduction?

By Kathleen Marden

      A recent article in the November 11 issue of Scientific American claims that alien abductions might be nothing more than “accidental awareness” caused by psychological damage inflicted upon a patient who awakens too soon while undergoing surgery. This hypothesis is presented by Anne Skomorowsky, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Psychosomatic Medicine Specialist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

I received the Dr. Skomorowsky’s article from a colleague who questioned if it was joke of some kind. I did as well, until I discovered that it has been printed in a prestigious journal. The article was loosely based upon the largest collection of data on “accidental awareness” ever assembled. It had been released by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. No mention was made of alien abduction. However, Dr. Skomorowsky’s article was linked to one written in 2008 by David V. Forrest, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia. Dr. Forrest noted that frequently reported narratives of alien abduction, altered state of consciousness, uniformly colored figures with large eyes, nakedness, a high tech room, etc. resemble medical-surgical procedures. He cautioned that if surgeons and anesthesiologists are creating false memories of alien abduction, the medical community should take note of it. Dr. Skomorowsky carried this conjecture to fruition in her article for Scientific American.

Dr. Skomorowsky suggests that under hypnosis with Dr. Benjamin Simon, Betty and Barney Hill might have recalled episodes of “accidental awareness” from prior surgeries, not alien abduction. She states, incorrectly that the Hill’s story includes nude medical exams and invasive probing by bug-eyed greenish humanoids. The fact is that they Hills were not stripped naked, nor were the non-human captors bug-eyed or green, as she suggests. Betty’s underwear was not removed and Barney’s trousers were only briefly lowered for the extraction of sperm and possibly a stool sample. Betty was the victim of one episode of invasive probing, when the “examiner” thrust a long needle into Betty’s navel, explaining that it was just a simple test that wouldn’t hurt her. The “leader” later added that it was a type of pregnancy test. Under hypnosis, Betty’s memory of this event was so traumatic that Dr. Simon decided to end the session early. Today, based upon hundreds of similar reports, we suspect that this procedure is employed to extract ova. Betty had never undergone amniocentesis or abdominal laparoscopy. They were not even being used in hospital operating rooms in 1964, at the time of Betty’s hypnosis sessions. Thus, to compare it to a prior surgical procedure recalled through “accidental awareness” is ludicrous.

Dr. Skomorowsky conjectures another episode of “accidental awareness” when she imagines, “Assuming Barney Hill wasn’t actually brought aboard a spaceship that night in 1961, he may have experienced a flashback to his tonsillectomy. He was cold. His eyes were closed. He didn’t want to be operated on. Then he woke up under general anesthesia, to full-blown terror, surrounded by distorted beings, squinting in the blue light of the OR. Perhaps the pain and horror of awareness overwhelmed his mind, or maybe it was the anesthetic drugs, but somehow the experience disappeared from his working memory–until he and Betty came to believe they had crossed paths with an unidentified flying object on a dark and lonely New Hampshire road.” 1

Dr. Skomorowsky fails to explain that the Hills had conscious, continuous recall of observing a silent, hovering disk-shaped craft the size of a dinner plate at arm’s length, around midnight on September 19, 1961. It loomed no more than 200 feet above their 1957 Chevy before it descended and then shifted over an adjacent field. Nor did she state that Barney was terrified when, through binoculars, he sighted figures dressed in shiny black uniforms that were “somehow not human” staring down at him. Or that Barney sensed he was going to be captured “like a bug in a net” moments before he fled back to his car. 2 She didn’t write of the code-like buzzing sounds that the Hills said struck the trunk of their vehicle and caused their car to vibrate. Or the tingling sensation that passed through Betty and Barney’s bodies moments before they found themselves 35 miles down the road with little memory of what had occurred in the interim. She failed to mention that all of this had been reported and documented months prior to the Hill’s hypnosis sessions. She failed to mention their conscious memory of a road block, a fiery orb that was moving even though they weren’t moving, or the physical and circumstantial evidence (torn dress, scraped shoes, magnetic field around the trunk of their car, broken watches, etc).

Dr. Skomorowsky’s statement demonstrates that her intent was to create a convincing hypothetical scenario in support of her conjecture, even though it is factually inaccurate. She extracted bits of information and reassembled it in a false speculation. The fact is that Dr. Simon’s hypno-analysis session probed Barney’s memories of childhood experiences that might have been emotionally equivalent to his memories under hypnosis. She seems completely unaware of Dr. Simon’s outstanding background in treating PTSD. In the sentence prior to his observation of a pale blue “operating room”, Barney recalled being assisted out of his car. His arms were up in a position of being supported, his elbows were out, and he was moving. But he was not walking. He stated, “I am only thinking of mental pictures because my eyes are closed, and I think I am going up a slight incline, and my feet are not bumping on the rocks.” (*Bumping on the rocks in an operating room?) “That’s funny, I thought of my feet bumping on the rocks. And they are going up smoothly, but I’m afraid to open my eyes because I am being told strongly, by myself, to keep my eyes closed. Don’t open them. I don’t want to be operated on.” The factual records show that Dr. Simon asks Barney if he has ever been operated on. He replies, “Only for my tonsils.” 3

Dr. Skomorowsky incorrectly assumes that Barney is recalling a flashback to his childhood tonsillectomy. The fact is that he answers a direct question by Dr. Simon, “Have you ever been operated on?” If she had bothered to read the next series of questions and answers, she would have known that Barney had not recalled a flashback to his tonsillectomy. He was recalling two entirely different events. First, he recalled that his childhood physician had peeked into his ear with a light. Second, he recalled an admission to the hospital for a suspected, but undiagnosed case of appendicitis. Barney stated, “It was in the Mercy Douglas Hospital and I was in there because they thought I had appendicitis… I used to walk down the corridor and peek in the operating room, and I thought of that.” Dr. Simon asked, “Was that operating room blue?” to which Barney replied, “No. It has bright lights…bright lights like a bulb. But this room (*on the craft) was not like that. It was spotless. I thought of everything being so clean and I closed my eyes.” 4 How could Dr. Skomorowsky allege that Barney was experiencing a flashback to the blue lights of an operating room? Did she not read his statement that the craft was not like the operating room he peeked into as a child? Is this another example of constructing fiction to fit her hypothesis?

A factual account of Barney’s testimony demonstrates quite the opposite of the scenario contrived by Dr. Skomorowsky. He mentions that he didn’t want to be operated on, but he does not know why he thinks of an operation. His eyes are closed and he is thinking only in mental pictures. His pants are on, but his fly is open and his “private parts” feel cold. Dr. Simon asked, “Did you feel you were going to be operated on?” Barney replied “No”. Nor did he feel that he was going to be attacked in any way. He explained, “I was lying on the table and my fly was open, and I thought, ‘Are they putting a cup around my private parts?’ And then it stopped and I thought, ‘How funny.’ I thought, “How funny. If I keep real quiet and real still, I won’t be harmed, and it will be over. And I will just stay here and pretend that I am anywhere and think of God and think of Jesus and think I am not afraid.” 5

I am astounded that anyone could mistake a possible sperm sample for a tonsillectomy. Certainly the penis is not located near the tonsils. Nor was Barney experiencing a flashback to a childhood tonsillectomy. Dr. Skomorowsky seems to have no knowledge that my comparative analysis showed nearly identical details were given by both Betty and Barney in situations in which they were both present that were different than the details in Betty’s dreams. Nor is she aware that they were seen separately by Dr. Simon every Saturday for nearly six months and he reinstated amnesia at the end of each session. Bug eyed greenish humanoids?? That isn’t what Betty and Barney reported seeing. Why was she not aware of the star map work or the alien symbol study?

“Accidental awareness” might present trauma to surgical patients who awaken during surgery, but it is not a valid explanation for Betty or Barney’s experience aboard a landed disk shaped craft in 1961. Perhaps Dr. Skomorowsky would have realized her error if she had read my book with Stanton T. Friedman Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience.(New Page Books, 2007)


1. Anne Skomorowsky, “Alien Abduction or “Accidental Awareness?”, Scientific American. November 11, 2014. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/alien-abduction-or-accidental-awareness/

2. Walter Webb, “A Dramatic UFO Encounter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire”, October 26, 1961.

3. Barney Hill to Dr. Benjamin Simon, February 29, 1964 hypnosis session. Also on p. 117, The Interrupted Journey, John Fuller, 1966.

4. Ibid. Also on page 122, The Interrupted Journey, John Fuller, 1966.

5. Ibid. Page 123, The Interrupted Journey, John Fuller, 1966.

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Alien Abduction or “Accidental Awareness?”

Alien Abduction or “Accidental Awareness?”

By Anne Skomorowsky

     “So then they roll me over on my back, and the examiner has a long needle in his hand. And I see the needle. And it’s bigger than any needle that I’ve ever seen.” So testifies Betty Hill, of her experience inside a flying saucer near Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, in 1961. Betty and her husband, Barney Hill, are the earliest known victims of alien abduction, and the 1966 bestseller The Interrupted Journey describes how they recalled the event under hypnosis. Their story includes nude medical exams and invasive probing—an alien abduction scenario many of us recognize from the TV shows and movies of the past 50 years.

But in 2008 a Columbia University psychoanalyst published “Alien Abduction: A Medical Hypothesis” which suggested that what is known as “accidental awareness under general anesthesia”—in which a patient awakens on the table during surgery—might lie behind stories of alien abduction. The analyst, David V. Forrest, noted the similarity of the classic alien abduction scenario—bug-eyed greenish humanoids surrounding the subject as she lies on an examining table under a bright light—to the operating room situation, where surgeons in scrubs and masks hover over the patient and enter her body with tools. Asked if being probed by aliens felt like his prior tonsillectomy, Barney Hill agreed: “Like that, but my eyes are closed, and I only have mental pictures. And I am not in pain. And I can feel a slight feeling. My groin feels cold.” . . .

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