In The Cult of Alien Gods I made reference to the theory that details of the Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction recalled under hypnosis in 1964 were derived from an episode of The Outer Limits that had aired just before the hypnosis sessions. I've been watching the original Outer Limits series, being run late nights on the This TV network, and I immediately picked up on similarities between an episode of the series and the Hill abduction. Unfortunately, the episode I fingered as the culprit was not the one cited in the skeptical literature. How could this be?
In researching the matter further, I discovered that no one actually did any real research on The Outer Limits episodes that aired in the winter of 1964 in the weeks before Barney Hill's infamous first hypnosis session. The entirety of the skeptical case rests, ultimately, on a half-remembered assertion by one skeptic, Martin Kottmeyer, in a 1990 magazine article that turns out not to be true. Kottmeyer said that "The Bellero Shield," airing February 10, 1964, was the only occurrence of aliens with slanted eyes of the kind reported by Barney Hill on February 22 and therefore a likely source for Barney's hypnotic recollection. Kottmeyer never reviewed the Outer Limits episode he discussed (he was basing his discussion on memory), and skeptics and believers alike simply accepted his word as fact, skeptics because it provided a convenient explanation for the Hill case and believers because the details differed significantly enough to allow the connection to be dismissed. A few people actually screened the episode (though notably Stanton Freedman based his dismissal on the opinion of an artist he spoke with who remembered seeing the show once), but so far as I can tell no one looked at other episodes of the series airing that same month.
A different episode, "The Children of Spider County," which aired even closer to the hypnosis session on February 17, 1964, not only featured aliens that matched the facial features and eyes of Barney's imagination, but also their clothing, the woods where they chose to abduct humans, and even more details that to my mind are simply too close to be anything other than the direct inspiration.
I have reviewed all of the Outer Limits episodes airing in the weeks before Barney's first hypnosis session and I compared them point for point with Hill's claims under hypnosis. The results were striking and surprised even me in how closely they conformed to what had just aired on TV.
Read the full report here.
H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (written 1931; published 1936) and John W. Campbell's Who Goes There? (1938) are both stories about prehistoric extraterrestrials discovered frozen in the Antarctic. Published just two years apart, the stories seem to share a common DNA despite the obvious differences in plot. Lovecraft's story uses its spare plotting to frame a lengthy disquisition on the history of the extraterrestrial Elder Things and their civilization, while Campbell takes a very similar premise and instead takes it in an action-thriller direction, telling a story of paranoia and fear later made into the movies The Thing from Another World and The Thing. To close the loop, in making The Thing director John Carpenter drew on Lovecraftian influences from At the Mountains of Madness.
Scholars have been divided on whether Campbell's story was inspired by Lovecraft's or whether the two hit upon the same premise independently or from a common source. Madness was published in 1936 in Astounding Stories, and Campbell became the editor of that magazine the next year, when it was renamed Astounding Science-Fiction. In that magazine he published Who Goes There? Given this, it seems to me likely that Campbell was familiar with Lovecraft's story--what editor doesn't review back issues when taking over?
A comparison of specific details from the stories show just how similar they are beneath the differences in style, pacing, and plotting.
I don't think Campbell was copying Lovecraft or meant anything nefarious; I think he was probably inspired by Lovecraft's story and made his own faster-paced, more commercial version. I can't say whether this was done purposely or was the result of an unconscious influence. The underlying similarities, though, suggest a connection that is probably more than coincidence.
The last couple of days I’ve been fairly hard on Robert Temple for his undocumented claims of CIA persecution and his credential inflation. But I do have to thank him for something. One of his articles called my attention to a passage in the fourth-century bishop Epiphanius’ Panarion that I would not otherwise have seen. In it, Epiphanius describes heretics who worship Biblical figures as gods:
Greg Bearringer is a graduate student in medieval studies at the University of Tennessee, and he confessed last week to an undying, if somewhat humiliating, love of H2's Ancient Aliens. He has some interesting things to say about Ancient Aliens and the value of truth over at the UT Daily Beacon. You can read the whole thing here, but here's the meat of his argument.
Robert Temple is perhaps best known for his theories about flying space frogs from Sirius jump-starting civilization, a theory he called The Sirius Mystery, but it is another aspect of his body of work that jumps out at me as off-the-walls bizarre.
Temple is convinced that the CIA, the FBI, MI5, and other security agencies are out to get him because he knows too much about the aliens, hypnosis, and sundry other alternative ideas.
In 1969, Time magazine published an early review of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods just prior to its U.S. release. The hardcover version of the text that the magazine reviewed was somewhat different than the familiar paperback version that followed, with, apparently, a single illustration—Lord Pacal’s coffin lid. The credulous Time reviewer, who saw unwarranted merit in von Däniken’s speculations, included a bit of fascinating information that contradicts one of von Däniken’s later claims about his ancient astronaut theory.
EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Story of the US Government's Involvement in the 1973 Pepperdine Atlantis Expedition
I’ve been reading through the State Department’s declassified diplomatic cables, and I’ve turned up some interesting nuggets.
My book Cthulhu in World Mythology is meant as tongue-in-cheek. I had hoped that would be obvious from the fact that the book is arguing for the literal existence of a fictional character and takes Lovecraft stories as historical artifacts. But apparently I fooled Mike Davis of the Lovecraft eZine, at least long enough for him to post a blog about it before he realized the truth. (Disclosure: I’m purchasing a Cthulhu sculpture through his good offices.)
With the publication this month of Nick Redfern's Pyramids and the Pentagon, another in his series of UFO and ancient mystery conspiracy books based on U.S. government documents released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I've decided to examine some of the CIA and NSA files Redfern cites in his many books as important evidence for piecing together the story of government involvement in the exploration of ancient astronauts and other extraterrestrial mysteries. This is the fourth piece in my series on the U.S. government's FOIA files.
With the publication this month of Nick Redfern's Pyramids and the Pentagon, another in his series of UFO and ancient mystery conspiracy books based on U.S. government documents released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I've decided to examine some of the CIA and NSA files Redfern cites in his many books as important evidence for piecing together the story of government involvement in the exploration of ancient astronauts and other extraterrestrial mysteries. This is the third piece in my series on the U.S. government's FOIA files.
Government UFO files are fun, but context is important. Somebody must have been having a laugh back in 1965 when writing the opening paragraph to a nearly-illegible report on a UFO in the Republic of Congo; at any rate, the NSA thought so little of the report that they let the file rot to the point where many of the words can no longer physically be read.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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