The Contactee Connection
The history of alien abductions has gone through some strange changes over time. In the 1940s, no one had ever heard of alien abduction. In the 1950s, a group of people claimed they were contacted by aliens and given special knowledge, because aliens were afraid that we were going to ruin our planet with nuclear weapons. In the 1970s and 1980s, people began to claim that they were forcefully kidnapped by aliens and had terrible medical procedures performed on them. This is also the period where people claimed that aliens have always been among mankind, kidnapping people.
There's one portion there that the modern UFO enthusiast is quick to gloss over: the role of the "Contactees", who claimed to have been contacted by people from space and given advanced technical, medical, or philosophic information with which they were going to save the world. These people were, each and every one of them, lunatics or con-men. That's why the UFO enthusiast is so quick to try and ignore that they existed; because the modern movement of alien "abductees" has its roots in the contactee movement, which was a load of baloney.
The most famous contactee was a man by the name of George Adamski, a Polish immigrant living in California. He claimed, among other things, that while driving with friends, he saw a huge, submarine-shaped flying saucer that he was sure was "looking for him." He got out of his car, went off alone, and met a spaceman named Orthon (a native of Venus) who warned him that humanity was going to really screw itself over if we kept developing atomic weapons.
Adamski eventually produced lots of photographs of UFOs, which looked suspiciously like the lids of water coolers that he delivered for a living; this was because they were, in fact, the lids of water coolers he sold for a living tossed into the air and photographed from afar. He also made plaster casts of footprints he claimed were left by the men from Venus, and believe me: they've got some weird footwear. Instead of treads or cleats or whatever you usually find on the bottom of shoes, they contained elaborate artwork. I guess if you're in a spaceship, style is more important than traction.
Anyway, Adamski claimed that the first photos of other planets brought back by Soviet satellites were fakes; he'd know because his friends from beyond the sky had taken him to most of the planets in our solar system and let him look around. When he eventually claimed that he wouldn't be in town for a few weeks because he was going to a conference on Saturn, most of his disciples became a little annoyed and he soon lost popularity, though there are still piles of websites singing the praises of his "research".
Adamski had something that, often times, people who report meeting aliens have: a prior interest in meeting aliens. Before he was tasked with his important mission to save mankind from the atomic inferno, he was an author of bad sci-fi books; in fact, in his later books written about the impact space aliens were having on society he just re-writes some of the things he'd mentioned in his first, all-fiction book.
But why is a stark-raving madman like Adamski worth knowing about? One of the things that I frequently hear from UFO enthusiasts is that before being kidnapped by space aliens, people usually have never heard about UFOs, or alien 'abductions', so on and so forth. That's a wad of baloney. At the height of his popularity, Adamski's books were best sellers, he was on major TV talk shows, he was even discussed in major magazines, such as Time. (Time, to its' credit, called Adamski the "Crackpot from California.") And Adamski was only one of the contactees; there were hundreds of others, all working as hard as they could to spread their story and gain believers. For most of them, of course, this was the first step to getting something more important: their believers' money.
The modern UFO enthusiast would have you believe that the phenomenon of "Alien Abductions" came about in a vacuum: no one had ever heard of flying saucers or alien kidnapping, and then one day space ships appeared and started stealing people and chopping up their cattle. They are quick to dismiss the Contactees as cranks, to downplay their fame at the time, or to ignore them all together.
This is not true. Alien abductions did not begin in a vacuum. It was slowly and inexorably blended into the popular culture over a period of some odd hundred years. I've already written until I became blue in the face about how the "gray aliens" (supposedly from Zeta Reticuli and allied with Majestic 12, the true one-world government) were originally developed in the 19th century as part of a ploy to sell more newspapers. Combine this with the Contactees and add a dash of movies, TV shows, or books, and you've got everything you need to fabricate the UFO phenomenon today.
Even if you don't believe my assertions that the Contactees were money-hungry loonies, you must see that something strange is going on. In the 1950s aliens abducted people to warn them about the danger of nuclear war, and then took them on fabulous all-expense-paid vacations to other planets. Nowadays, aliens abduct people and steal their genetic materials as part of a top-secret plan to enslave humanity. I don't know what we did to make them treat us differently, but it must have been amazing.
The fact of the matter is that, no matter how much the UFO enthusiast would have you ignore them, Contactees are an important part of the UFO story. It is a well-told story, and an entertaining story, but a story nonetheless. A poll taken before the release of the movie Independence Day showed that 50% of people believe that our government has made some sort of secret pact with space aliens. I'm not sure if this number is accurate, but either way, it's impressive. If all the people that spend so much time believing in this sort of thing were to put their energies towards, say, scientific research, can you imagine the world we'd be living in today? I'm sure we'd already have a cure for cancer and we'd all be flying around in solid gold helicopters. I have the strange feeling that I'm stealing this from a Johnny Cash song, but something seems off. Anyway, don't believe everything the UFO enthusiasts tell you. There's more historical context for the phenomenon than they let on.
Be seeing you.
First Published in The Triangle, 11 November 2005