For many years, UFO researchers thought abductions were rare events
that befell unfortunate adults who happened to be in the wrong place
at the wrong time.
The Barney and Betty Hill case seemed to be a
good example of the "There's-One-Get-Him!" theory. In recent years,
however, researchers have realized that the abduction phenomenon is
lifelong and pervasive.
We now know that abductions begin in infancy. Mothers have described
being abducted with their babies. Some abductees have even reported
aliens visiting them in their hospital beds shortly before or after
giving birth. We also now know that the abduction phenomenon
continues into old age. Most important, we now know that abductees
experience a lifetime of abductions. Every abductee whom my
colleagues and I have investigated has had many abduction events
throughout his or her life.
So, how many people have been abducted? This question is virtually
impossible to answer, mainly because people do not remember their
abductions. But in spite of this difficulty, we know that the
abduction phenomenon is enormously widespread. My colleague Budd
Hopkins and I have received thousands of letters and phone calls
from abductees relating their experiences. Other researchers
throughout our society have dealt with or heard from tens of
Still, the number of people contacting
researchers is not an accurate representation of how many people
might be abductees because, again, most abductees are unaware of
Although unaware abductees are a silent population who confound
accurate statistics, they provide an excellent "reality check" for
the abduction phenomenon. We can compare reports abductees made
before they became aware of their abductions to those they made
after hypnosis with a competent therapist. As a group, the unaware
abductees consistently report a similar pattern of experiences
before becoming aware of abductions.
When unaware, they explain their strange experiences in ways
acceptable to society. For example, an unaware abductee will explain
his nighttime odd and half-remembered visitations as "guardian
angels" calling on him. An unaware abductee might explain a
visitation as a deceased relative or friend reassuring him that
"Everything is all right." An unaware abductee may think that he has
seen "ghosts" and that his house is "haunted." One woman told me she
and her family had moved many times to get away from ghosts, but
every house she ever lived in was haunted.
Unaware abductees also frequently report seeing religious figures or
the Devil. They report having had intense and profound communication
with an animal. They describe having unexpected or unwanted
"out-of-body experiences" that take place apart from trauma or
meditation. They travel on the "astral plane," from which they can
look down and see rooftops in their neighborhood.
The case of one graduate student is typical. She told me of seeing
ghosts, UFOs, and bizarre occurrences throughout her life. In one
spectacular event, when she was a young girl, she looked out of her
bedroom window and saw a UFO landing in her backyard. Suddenly her
distraught mother came running into her bedroom, yelling that the
aliens were going to get them and that they had to hide. The student
remembered nothing else in the incident. I asked her what she
thought about these unusual events. She answered that her mother had
told her this was just part of life, that life has its mysterious
side, and that what she experienced was just a part of growing up.
She was able to categorize a lifetime of
extraordinary events as "normal."
Informal Estimates of Magnitude
Budd Hopkins designed a questionnaire for OMNI magazine in
1987 to try to collect incidence data on abductions. Readers of OMNI
returned over 4,000 questionnaires. Physicist Bruce MacCabee and
UFO researchers Don Berliner and Rob Swiatek of the Fund for UFO
Research analyzed 450 of them and concluded that about 4 percent of
the male respondents and 11 percent of the female respondents might
In 1987 I also began to collect incidence data on abductees. I
developed a simple survey, based on the OMNI questionnaire, for a
university student population. Over the years, I refined the survey
and continued to give it to students. By 1991 I had collected over
twelve hundred responses, mainly from college students aged eighteen
to twenty-three. These fell into three categories: possible
abductee, questionable, or not an abductee. I based the categories
on my knowledge of the unusual experiences that abductees had told
me about before they knew they were involved with the phenomenon.
The results of my analysis suggested
that 5.5 percent of the respondents were "possible" abductees, and
that 15.5 percent were "questionable." These numbers were shockingly
And there are many other informal estimates. For example, the
evidence strongly suggests that the majority, if not all, of "close
encounter" UFO sightings are the beginnings or endings of abduction
events. Even high-level sightings may be indicative of abductions.
Statistics from Gallup Polls on UFO sightings have varied from 9
percent to 14 percent since the 1950s.
If a percentage of these sightings mask
abductions, then the number of abduction events is high.
The Roper Poll
In 1991, Robert Bigelow, a philanthropist and supporter of UFO
research, and another interested researcher proposed to Budd Hopkins
and me that we conduct formal survey research to estimate the number
of people in America who may be abductees. We agreed.
We knew the challenges. We had to construct the survey so that it
would elicit a wide range of information and overcome the problems
of lack of conscious memories of abductions. Then we had to find a
polling organization that would be willing to take on the task.
After interviewing the major polling organizations, we chose the
Roper Organization because the people there were enthusiastic about
the project. Finally, we had to be very cautious and conservative in
analyzing the results.
In the summer of 1991, Roper conducted an omnibus survey of a
randomly selected group of adults across the United States. It was
an in-home survey, in which an interviewer went to a person's home,
asked the questions, and recorded the answers on his questionnaire.
The abduction questions were part of other questions about people's
personal experiences and politics.
There were no questions about product
preferences.2 One question was specifically designed to identify
people who felt compelled to answer positively regardless of the
facts. Hopkins invented the word "trondant" and we asked if this
word had special significance or meaning for the respondent. If a
large percentage of people answered the trondant question
positively, we would know that the answers to the questionnaire
should all be suspect.
Survey research usually covers a population of about sixteen hundred
people, which is considered large enough to provide accurate results
for most national polls. However, given the controversial nature of
abduction research, we wanted to use a much larger population to
maximize accuracy. The final number of respondents was 5,947 people,
which yielded an error range of a mere 1.4 percent.
The Roper Poll thus became the largest
and most accurate poll of this type ever taken. It is important to
note that it was not an opinion poll, but a poll asking about
people's personal experiences, which made it different from nearly
all other polls of this nature.
In the initial results, the number of potential abductees was very
18 percent had wakened paralyzed
with a strange figure in the room.
15 percent had seen a terrifying
14 percent had left their body.
13 percent had missing time.
11 percent had seen a ghost.
10 percent had flown through the
8 percent had seen unusual
lights in the room.
8 percent had puzzling scars.
7 percent had seen a UFO.
5 percent had dreams of UFOs.
1 percent said the word "trondant"
had special significance for them.
The small number of positive responses
to the trondant question meant that the poll was not weighted toward
those who had the urge to answer positively. The Roper Organization
eliminated from the final statistics all questionnaires with a
positive answer to the trondant question.
The results of the Roper Poll indicated that millions of Americans
might be abductees. Hopkins and I knew that the abduction phenomenon
was widespread, but these numbers were breathtaking. For that
reason, we took the most conservative approach to the data. We
isolated the five questions that had been found in previous research
to be reliable indicators of abduction activity. And we included in
the final sample only those people who answered at least four of the
five questions positively.
The final analysis indicates that 2 percent of the American
people—five million Americans—have experienced events consistent
with those that abductees experienced before they knew they were
abductees. Even if this number is as much as 75 percent higher than
actual occurrence, there would still be over one million people who
might be abductees.
One thing is clear: The Roper Poll
confirmed the less formal and anecdotal evidence that there are a
tremendous number of people who have had abduction experiences. And
we can conclude, therefore, that the abduction phenomenon is
widespread and touches almost all groups in society.
In addition to the overall findings, the Roper Poll reported the
results by age, sex, race, geography, and social status, and
provided data on these subgroups. One important subanalysis focused
on age, and a second focused on the group of respondents whom the
Roper Organization called Social/Political Actives. These people,
whatever their political persuasion, are aware of social problems
and seek to effect change. For example, they write letters of
protest to their local school boards, seek political office, or
otherwise have some semblance of social responsibility. They have
more education and a greater median income ($38,700 compared to
$28,300) than the general population.
The results of the two subanalyses are shown in the following
tables. The first summarizes the responses by age group, showing
that the eighteen to twenty-nine age group answered more positively
to the five abduction indicators than any other age group.
This seems to go against logic because
older people have had a greater opportunity over their lifetime to
have more abduction experiences.
Relationship Between Five
Indicator Experiences and Age (Total Sample)
AGE Overall 18-29 30-44 45-59 60+
Waking up paralyzed with sense of strange figure 18% 22%
21% 17% 10%
Missing time 13% 14% 13% 13% 10%
Feeling of actually flying 10% 11% 13% 10% 8%
Balls of light in room 8% 11% 9% 7% 5%
Puzzling scars 8% 14% 7% 6% 5%
The second subanalysis concerns the
Social/Political Actives. This group would not be expected to have
experienced bizarre events; they are people who place themselves in
the public eye.
However, they not only scored higher on
all questions, but they scored significantly higher.
Relationship Between Five
Indicator Experiences and Social Political Activism
Overall Soc./Pbl. Actives
Waking up paralyzed with sense of strange figure 18% 28%
Missing time 13% 17%
Feeling of actually flying 10% 18%
Balls of light in room 8% 11%
Puzzling scars 8% 9%
The Roper Poll provides incidence data on the abduction phenomenon,
but it does not provide frequency data. We know that abductions
occur throughout most of an abductee's life. However, estimating
frequency is very difficult. The first and most important problem is
that abductees do not remember the vast majority of their abduction
events. To collect frequency data, I asked several abductees to
chart their abductions.
These abductees had a sufficient number
of hypnotic sessions with me to be sensitive to the "markers" that
strongly indicate abduction activity. Six abductees carefully
recorded the events that happened to them. We have confirmed some of
these events through hypnotic regression, and we will investigate
other events as time goes on.
Frequency of Abductions
The charting effort uncovers some
provocative data. Christine Kennedy, for example, correlated her
menstrual cycle with her charted abduction events; when there was no
abduction event, her period had a twenty-eight-day cycle; but when
there was an abduction event, her cycle shortened to as little as
Allison Reed correlated her abduction
experiences with her blood sugar level (having diabetes, she took
her blood sugar reading every morning); her blood sugar level was
often elevated after an abduction, rising to three or four times its
normal level. Gloria Kane found that her experience increased in
frequency at ovulation and decreased in frequency at menstruation
(although ovulation and menstruation were not the sole determinates
of her abductions).
The woman who represents the extreme of the abduction phenomenon is
Kay Summers, who lives in the Midwest and works in retail sales.
Constant telephone contact has allowed me to record the many events
that have befallen her. She had as many as 100 abductions during a
one-year period, or an average one every three days. The effect on
Kay has been devastating and she lives in despair.
She receives minimal support from her
friends and family, who either refuse to believe her or, if they do
believe her, refuse to believe the amazing frequency.
Often tired and depressed because of sleep loss and abduction
trauma, Kay has learned to dissociate psychologically from the
experience while it is happening, much as a child might during
repeated physical or sexual abuse. Still, she is on an emotional
roller-coaster. When the abductions ease off, she begins to regain
her sunny disposition, but then they begin again and her despondency
mounts. As of 1997, her abductions continue. Budd Hopkins and I have
investigated many of her experiences, including over fifty of the
Although the frequency with which Kay is abducted is extreme, it is
not as unusual as we originally thought. In the last few years, many
abductees have reported dramatic accelerations in the frequency of
their abductions. The general trend has been toward a greater number
of events for each abductee.
Suppose that these data are wrong—that frequency is much lower. The
smallest number of abductions per year reported to me is nine. If
the rate is only five per year, and if the phenomenon begins in
childhood and continues through old age, the numbers still add up
quickly. If the person is forty years old, then he may already have
had as many as two hundred abductions, with many more to come.
This is borne out by many abductees who
have charted their unusual experiences over a period of several
years. Charles Petrie, who works as a printer, kept a journal of his
experiences over the course of his life and has consciously
remembered over two hundred events up to age thirty-eight. His life
has been a quest to discover what has been happening to him.
The conclusion from the Roper Poll and from our own research is
that, without a doubt, an enormous number of people are experiencing
an enormous number of abductions. The aliens have invested and
continue to invest a tremendous amount of time and energy in the
abduction program. Many people think that abductions are a "study"
or "experiment," or that the aliens are "learning" about us. The
numbers suggest otherwise. The learning and experimenting, if ever
the case, are mainly over.
Hence, the evidence clearly indicates
that the aliens are conducting a widespread, systematic program of
physiological exploitation of human beings.
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