NOVA: Let's talk about your own personal evolution from perhaps
skepticism to belief ...
MACK: When I first encountered this phenomenon, or particularly
even before I had actually seen the people themselves, I had
very little place in my mind to take this seriously. I, like
most of us, were raised to believe that if we were going to
discover other intelligence, we'd do it through radio waves or
through signals or something of that kind.
The idea that we could be reached by some other kind of being,
creature, intelligence that could actually enter our world and
have physical effects as well as emotional effects, was simply
not part of the world view that I had been raised in. So that I
came very reluctantly to the conclusion that this was a true
In other words, that I - I did everything I could to rule
out other sources, or sexual abuse. Some of these people are
abused. But they're able to tell, distinguish clearly the
abduction trauma from other forms of abuse. Some forms of
psychosis or people making up stories - I could reject that on the
basis that there was no gain in this for the vast majority of
.... I've now worked with over a hundred experiencers
intensively. Which involves an initial two-hour or so screening
interview before I do anything else.
And in case after case
after case, I've been impressed with the consistency of the
story, the sincerity with which people tell their stories, the
power of feelings connected with this, the self-doubt - all the
appropriate responses that these people have to their
NOVA: So tell us, please, how literally you intend people to
take this? Are you suggesting people are really being snatched
from their beds by aliens and experiments on board a spaceship?
MACK: Just how literally to take this, is one of the most
interesting and complex aspects of this. And I want to walk
through that as clearly as I can. There are aspects of this
which I believe we are justified in taking quite literally. That
UFOs are in fact observed, filmed on camera at the same time
that people are having their abduction experiences.
People, in fact, have been observed to be missing at the time
that they are reporting their abduction experiences. They return
from their experiences with cuts, ulcers on their bodies,
triangular lesions, which follow the distribution of the
experiences that they recover, of what was done to them in the
craft by the surgical-like activity of these beings.
All of that has a literal physical aspect and is experienced and
reported with appropriate feeling, by the abductees, with or
without hypnosis or a relaxation exercise.
....There is a - I believe, a gradation of experiences and that go
from the most literal physical kinds of hurts, wounds, person
removed, spacecraft that can be photographed, to experiences
which are more psychological, spiritual, involve the extension
of consciousness. The difficulty for our society and for our
mentality is, we have a kind of either/or mentality.
either, literally physical; or it's in the spiritual other
realm, the unseen realm. What we seem to have no place for - or we
have lost the place for - are phenomena that can begin in the
unseen realm, and cross over and manifest and show up in our
literal physical world.
So the simple answer would be: Yes, it's both. It's both
literally, physically happening to a degree; and it's also some
kind of psychological, spiritual experience occurring and
originating perhaps in another dimension.
And so the phenomenon
stretches us, or it asks us to stretch to open to realities that
are not simply the literal physical world, but to extend to the
possibility that there are other unseen realities from which our
consciousness, our, if you will, learning processes over the
past several hundred years have closed us off.
NOVA: I wonder, if in that vein, you can speak to what you think
this experience is about?
MACK: ....There are several effects that these experiences have
for those who undergo alien abduction encounters. First is the
most familiar aspect or fit, which is a traumatic event in which
a blue light or some kind of energy paralyzes the person,
whether they're in their home or they're driving a car. They
They feel themselves being removed from wherever they were. They
floated through a wall or out a car, carried up on this beam of
light into a craft and there subjected to a number of now
familiar procedures which involve the beings staring at them;
involves probing of their body, their body orifices; and a
complex process whereby they sense in the case of men, sperm
removed; in the women, eggs removed; some sort of hybrid
offspring created which they're brought back to see in later
abductions. That's the sort of literal experience.
Now, the effect of that is - or what seems to be going on there,
in a number of abductees - not just people I see, but the ones
Budd Hopkins and other people see - is to produce some kind of new
species to bring us together to produce a hybrid species
which - the abductees are sometimes told - will populate the earth
or will be there to carry evolution forward, after the human
race has completed what it is now doing, namely the destruction
of the earth as a living system.
So it's a kind of later form.
It's an awkward coming together of a less embodied species than
we are, and us, for this evolutionary purpose.
However, that might not be literally true. It might be that that
this is a communication to us. That perhaps we need to change
our ways. It may not be that these are literally our babies. It
may be a kind of expression of images of babies; or it may be
that these hybrids we're told is what will have to be. It's a
kind of insurance policy if the earth continues to be subjected
to the exploitation of its living environment to the point where
it can't sustain human and other life as it's now occurring. But
it may not be literally what is going to happen. So that's one
Another area is the whole visual environmental and informational
aspect of this in which people are shown on television screens a
huge variety of scenes of environmental destruction of the earth
polluted; of a kind of post-apocalyptic scene in which even the
spirits have been routed from their environment because they
live in the same physical and spiritual environment that we do;
and canyons are shown with trees destroyed.
Pieces of the earth
are seen as breaking away - portions of the East Coast or West
NOVA: .....Alien hybrid. What does that mean?
MACK: Sometimes along the way, as you go deeper and deeper into
the person's consciousness, into their experience, they will
discover.... what is called a dual identity. In other words, that
they are both human - in one dimension; but they also are
themselves, have an alien identity. That they are participatory
in this reproductive hybrid program, as if they were altogether
part of it. And that they may, in fact, even experience
themselves as aliens.
One of the men in my book actually was an active participant in
taking a woman from Texas up into the ship and being, and acting
the reproductive function of the alien being, and felt he was
himself alien. And often the abductees will feel that their job,
developmentally, is to integrate these two dimensions or these
two aspects of themselves: the human and the alien.
And that the
alien dimension is a part of ourselves, our souls, if you will
even, from which we were or have been cut off over the centuries
of human beings living on this earth in this densely embodied
NOVA: You and others have said that there is no other
psychological explanation. But that there is some reality to it.
What do you think of the work of people like Michael Persinger
and Robert Baker who have these complicated theories about
neurology or they charge that hypnogogic hallucinations being at
the root of these perceived - these experiences?
MACK: These experiences often occur in literal consciousness.
Not in a hypnogogic or dreamlike state. The person may be in
their bedroom quite wide awake. The beings show up. And there
they are and the experience begins. That they're not occurring
in any dreamlike state. Now sometimes they do occur when a
person is dozing off or in a hypnogogic state. But very
Also, any theory that is going to look upon this as a purely
endogenous phenomenon, by which I mean generated purely from the
psyche of the person themselves. Which is a kind of arrogance
too, really. Because it means that we just can't accept the
notion there could be another intelligence at work here. Which
is a much more economical explanation.
But if we must find a
theory within ourselves, then we should keep in mind that any
theory that's going to even begin to address this, has to take
into account five factors:
Number one, the extreme consistency of the stories from person
after person. Which you would not get simply by stimulating the
temporal lobes. You would get very variable idiosyncratic
responses that would differ a great deal from person to person.
Number two, you would have to deal with the fact that there is
no ordinary experiential basis for this. In other words, there's
nothing in their life experience that could have given rise to
this, other than what they say. In other words, there's no
mental condition that could explain it.
Third, you have to account for the physical aspects: the cuts
and the other lesions on their bodies, which do not follow any
psychodynamic distribution, like the stigmata associated with
the identification with the agony of Christ.
Fourth, the tight association with UFOs, which are often
observed in the community, by the media, independent of the
person having the abduction experience, who may not have seen
the UFO at all, but reads or sees on the television the next day
that a UFO passed near where they were when they had an
And finally, the phenomenon occurs in children as young as two,
two and a half, three years old. And any theory that simply
attributes this to the activity of the brain, does not take into
account at least three of those five fundamental dimensions...
NOVA: Aren't you really at risk of losing quite a bit,
personally and professionally, because of ...criticism?
MACK: I think that, in some ways, I've gained more than I've
lost in terms of inviting people into this mystery, having a
dialogue with all kinds of very wonderful, open, intelligent,
brilliant people from many different fields. It's been quite
exciting. I mean I've been attacked, but the attacks have not
been really nearly as serious to me as the openness that I've
found among many people throughout the culture and
internationally, who are saying:
Yeah, I always suspected
something like this was going on, and I'm glad you were willing
to come forward and report about it....
It's often said that I'm a believer and sort of have gone
and lost my objectivity. I really object to that. Because this
is not about believing anything. I didn't believe anything when
I started, I don't really believe anything now. I'm come to
where I've come to clinically. In other words, I worked with
people over hundred and hundreds of hours and have done as
careful a job as I could to listen, to sift out, to consider
And none have come forward. No one has
found an alternative explanation in a single abduction case.
NOVA: Many say that this is just really a function of cultural
MACK: ...I have been looking at this phenomenon as it manifests
in indigenous people, in Native Americans - the Cherokee,
Hopi, who know these beings as the star people. We've looked at
this in South Africa, particularly in interviewing in depth a
leading South African sangoma, or medicine man, who calls these
We've investigated it in Brazil with a farmer in - outside Belo
Horizonte who had identical abduction experiences to what have
been reported in this country. I'm getting recent - I received a
letter about abduction experiences from a person in Malaysia
today. In other words, this is - as far as we can tell - a worldwide
phenomenon. This is not restricted, as some people have thought,
to Western or particularly American culture.
....I found that the higher or the greater the stake that a
person has in this society, in their position or their job, the
more reluctant they are to admit that they've had abduction
experiences......When abductees went on television with me
during the spring of 1994, during my book tours, and wanted to
communicate and educate about it, a number of them received
threats to their jobs.
Some of them lost them....we have one man
in management consultation, lost an important contract. A woman
that worked for the federal government, who was an abductee, was
threatened with loss of her job. In other words, this is not
something that is regarded as acceptable.
I've interviewed airline pilots who have had sighting - close up
sightings of UFOs. They will not report it, because they will be
removed from their work. Even if they've had abduction
experience, they will not talk about it. And 25 to 30 percent of
airline pilots, according to a survey that one of the people
I've talked with did, have had close up sightings, but will not
This simply is not something that is accepted as OK to talk
about or - and that may be changing. I recently saw a Harvard
Divinity School student, and I asked him these questions. I
said: Do you talk about this among your fellow students? And he
said: 'Oh, yes.'
And it turned out several of them had also had
abduction experiences. And even the ones that had not, were
fascinated, interested, didn't ridicule them.
So maybe the
climate is changing.