Raymond Shearer: He's No John Drake
"As, I confess, it is my nature's plague to spy..."Meet Raymond Shearer, a 32 year-old attorney from Wisconsin. He seemed to have it all: a decent job, a wife, and no reason for anyone to say “this guy’s off his rocker.” All of that was about to change, however, when space aliens abducted him.
~Othello Act III, Scene 3
The story is more or less standard fare: driving home from a late-night meeting with a client, he spotted a bright light in the sky. Passing under it, his radio failed and for some reason the interior of the car got very warm. Not thinking too much of it, he kept driving until, just a few miles from his house, he pulled off of the highway and down a deserted back road. He then drove up on a spaceship sitting in the road. The crew, of course, brought him aboard, performed some terrible medical experiments, told him some technobabble about how their spaceship worked, erased his memories, and then dropped him off again to continue his drive home. Naturally, these memories only surfaced much later during a hypnosis session. The sessions revealed that, for some reason, this chump had been turned into an alien spy to invade our government.
People that believe in such flying boogieman nonsense generally make a number of claims, and one of them is that never, ever, in the history of mankind, has an alien abduction been properly shown in the media. No TV show, movie, or book, they argue, has ever shown things properly, and therefore there can be no social cause for the alien abduction phenomenon. Instead of my usual chowchow of foul language and clean logic, today, I am going to raise a monument to eBay and my lack of fiscal responsibility by going through his story step by step and providing at least one source from which Shearer could have copied ideas.
Shearer claims that he was suddenly compelled to turn down a side road, and that the UFO was sitting in the field ahead of him. There was also a light in the sky that seems to have interfered with his car radio. Both of these are similar to the story of Betty and Barney Hill. They claimed to have been driving down the road, spotted an object in the sky, had trouble with their car radios, and then seen a UFO in the road into which they were dragged and experimented on. The problem with the Shearer case is the date: depending on the source, he was either abducted in April of 1970 or sometime in 1978. The Hill story was turned into a TV movie (starring James Earl Jones as Barney) in 1975, though they wrote a book in 1966. Either way, both were nationally advertised and well known, and Shearer would have heard of it.
Shearer claims that the aliens performed some sort of medical test on him and that he was afraid these tests had turned him into an unwilling spy. After his supposed abduction, he quit his job as a lawyer and became obsessed with politics, working on political campaigns for free. Yet, he was constantly afraid of running for public office in case the aliens had somehow planted him with this obsession so that upon their return they’d know, so to speak, some low people in high places. Anyway, you can’t watch bad sci-fi movies from the 1950s without seeing this theme pop up over and over again. In Killers from Space bug-eyed space aliens retrieve and Air Force pilot from a downed aircraft, repair his injuries, and then send him back to his base to steal secrets about the date and place of upcoming atomic tests. An even better fit is the strangely creepy Invaders from Mars, in which the Martians insert needles into the backs of the necks of unsuspecting victims, who then become their spies. (Shearer reported a large bump on the back of his neck.) Although it doesn’t involve space aliens, we can hardly forget the original Manchurian Candidate which both absolutely terrified me and had the theme of politically-motivated spying. Even 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers has some similarities: full-grown creatures that are exact duplicates of certain people are hatched from pods, and then they kill the people and take their place. Certainly Shearer wasn’t claiming that occurred to him, but, the general idea of alien spies indistinguishable from regular people isn’t far away. Call it a half reflection of Cold War anxieties.
When describing the monsters from beyond the stars that had abducted him, he claimed that they were in good, athletic shape, wore blue jumpsuits, had helmets, slightly slanted eyes, and flattened, elongated faces. Overall, he said that they looked sort of like the people depicted in art from ancient Egypt, except much paler.
During the 1970s, a (pardon my harsh tone) nutcase named Erich von Daniken came up with what he called the ancient astronaut theory: that earth’s ancestors had actually been space aliens forced to flee to this world after some sort of catastrophe. Or that the monsters and gods of legend had really been space aliens. Or that human beings had gotten all of their technology and culture from space monsters. Von Daniken sort of bounced around a lot, but the point is, in the 1970s, everyone and their grandmother had heard of the ancient astronaut theory and were beginning to associate space aliens with ancient cultures. If you wanted to associate aliens with ancient culture, what better group to compare them to than the earth’s most ancient people, the Egyptians?
The blue jumpsuits are also reminiscent of the Andreasson case, which received a great deal of attention since she claimed that the aliens which contacted her were devout Christians. It was also made into a book which came out in 1978, ten years after her supposed abduction. What’s weird about this is that blue overalls are rare in reports of alien fashion, yet his aliens match those of a book that came out that same year. Hmm.
Shearer said that, upon leaving his car, he was met by both the captain and some sort of guard standing by the entrance. The captain wanted Shearer to come aboard, but the guard was very much against it and argued with him. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a case wherein they space aliens bothered with a guard: usually they just let people wander around their ship however they want a la Travis Walton. In the classic 1956 film Forbidden Planet, however, a space ship lands on Altair IV, and the first thing the captain does is put a guard on the entrance hatch. I remember this very specifically, because it seemed like a good idea that I’d never seen anyone else do.
Shearer’s recollection of what the space aliens told him about their ship is now laughably outdated. According to him, it worked by using gravity: on earth, they could lock onto another planet and be pulled towards it, then lock onto earth and return. They also said something about our not understanding the true nature of time. These technobabble notes are surely a throwback to the Contactee movement of the 1950s: for instance, in his 1953 book The Flying Saucers Have Landed, George Adamski quotes reliable witnesses who tell him that UFOs are powered by static electricity, jet engines, power inherent in Mercury, “Fohatic Energy”, music from a “Celestial Symphony”, so on and so forth. In that day, you weren’t anything if you didn’t come up with a good sounding technobabble explanation for how the UFO that kidnapped you works. The idea that UFOs run on some sort of gravity drive goes back to the 1890s and early sci-fi writings by the likes of H.G. Wells.
But Shearer’s story didn’t just spawn iteself. It was published and mentioned in UFO circles by a man named Smith: a man who was known for exaggerating stories to make them jucier and get more lucrative deals. There should be a three-strike law for UFO tales, and this would be strike fifty or so for Mr. Shearer.
The point is that I have no idea what happened to Raymond Shearer. I wasn’t there, and I can’t find a whole lot of information on the case. But the point is, his story is just a mishmash of old movies. The fact that without any physical evidence whatsoever and based solely on memories recovered through hypnosis (which even hypnosis practitioners admit is a hit-or-miss technique) he was taken seriously is ridiculous.
A total lack of evidence and a worn-out cliché of a story, pared with questionable contacts, should mean that Shearer’s case gets dumped immediately in the “crazy story” pile.
Be seeing you.