Aliens Subject of Mack Talk

Pulitzer-prize winning Professor of Psychiatry John E. Mack and New York author Budd Hopkins addressed a crowd of around 700 last night at John Hancock Hall in "A Dialogue on the Alien Abduction Experience."

The dialogue was sponsored by the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research, founded by Mack in 1993, and the Intruders Foundation, founded by Hopkins in 1989.

While Mack and Hopkins agree aliens abduct people--an idea which has caused great controversy--they disagree over the aliens' motives.

Mack, author of Alien Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens, ascribed to aliens a "corrective initiative." He argued that abductees he has interviewed tend to become enlightened to the nuances of the human condition and the degradation of the environment.

But Hopkins, author of Missing Time and Intruders, regards alien activity as more physical and self-serving.


"I don't like their bedside manner," he said.

Although Mack and Hopkins are both recognized as pioneers in alien abduction research, last night was the first time they have discussed their research together in public.

Three years ago, Harvard Medical School investigated Mack for endorsing the study of alien abductions and in a letter to the professor, Harvard Medical School Dean Daniel C. Tosteson '44 questioned his research methods.

No further action was taken for reasons of academic freedom.

Hopkins, however, supported his colleague.

"I commend John for his courage for being at a university overly frightened by something as dramatic as this," Hancock said. "I don't think any institution of organization is being very wise to oppose the serious investigation of this phenomenon."

Mack credits Hopkins for initially convincing him alien abduction exists.

"This phenomenon is of enormous complexity, meaning and value to the understanding of ourselves," Mack said.

Mack has worked extensively with 130 people claiming to have been abducted by aliens. As a result of his research, he concluded that aliens have great influence in transforming their subjects.

"The mind-to-mind communication by the beings has an enormous impact on the individuals," Mack said. "I've seen this case after case."

Mack notes that his ideas have met widespread resistance, but he says people are slowly opening themselves to the idea.

"I don't know what my Medical School colleagues would think, but increasingly, medical students look both ways down the hall, then slip into my office," he said. "There is a curiosity growing about this."

The discussion was moderated by Christopher Lydon, host of the WBUR talk show "The Connection."

Tickets were $30. Proceeds will benefit Mack and Hopkins' research foundations.

During question and period, an audience member strongly endorsed Mack and Hopkins' research.

"I believe if flying saucers exist, we stand to lose a lot by not taking them seriously," he said