Abduction Experiences - Environmental Factors

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Abduction Experiences - Environmental Factors

Postby ryguy » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:04 pm

I wrote the following today to Jack's list, but decided to post it here also. If there's anyone who can provide any input, based on their own research or reading, that would be cool. This is a field I've always had an interested in because of my background. It's essentially an examination of a causal link between elevated EMF levels in the environment and paranormal experiences.

---

Mahmoud,

Great email - I agree strongly that we don't need to wait for Governments to beautify the world...in fact if we do so, we are doomed to failure. Most governments are bound by the power and financial strength of industry - so far too often science suffers when we leave it to those with the funding to drive science.

Case in point - effects of EMF.

You wrote:

The effects caused by intense External Magnetic Field (ExMF), is a vast study that could only be understood when humanity managed to produce that field, next time I will write something about these effects. Thanks to Dr. Bruc Macambe and his article "Strong Magnetic Field Detected Following a Sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object", which will help me a lot? We don’t need to wait for Governments, together we may beatify this world!
Mahmoud


I agree that the effects caused by an intense External Magnetic Field would be an interesting study...however one study I find critical at the moment are the effects caused by ELF - low freq. EMF. There are in fact studies that confirm biological effects caused by EMF. And yes - your point about effects of EMF on the internal chemistry of a car battery is valid - however if I were ever around a field strong enough to induce that kind of chemical reaction (whether by effecting the the electrolytes within the battery, or the electrons within the circuit the battery is connected to) - I wouldn't be as concerned about the battery as I would be about my own bio-chemistry and the damaging effects of such a field.

I remember when we were doing some research years ago in the EE department, we were doing elementary studies of distance vs. field EMF field strength. It is absolutely true that field strength is extremely high when you're right up against a source (high-voltage powerline for instance) - however it drops off exponentially with distance. Btw...a rule of thumb for the practical (non-theoretical) folk out there who are interested - if you ever are curious about the direction of the lines of flux (EMF field) around a high power/electrical wire...if you point your thumb in the direction of current flow, your fingers curl around the conductor pointed in the direction of flux lines. Also - if you want to induce current in a wire using magnetics, current flow in the wire is caused using a similar method to determine the direction to spin the magnet (elementary generator circuitry...nothing fancy here.)

What caught my eye - was the fact that yes, the field dropped off exponentially, but even at a fair distance a lingering EMF remained above normal levels. This depends greatly on the voltage/current levels in the conductor - but high power lines are significant, regardless of the frequency - environmental effects are still present. My first question at the time was - okay...that's fine for short-term exposure because the envirnomental effects fade upon leaving the area...but I wonder what happens to biological systems under long-term exposure to this kind of low-level EMF radiation?

Ever watch ghosthunters on Sci-Fi? These guys that walk around the house with an EMF meter and get all excited when they see a "spike", believing they are detecting paranormal activity? They are in fact measuring the environmental EMF fields created by the house circuitry. I remember one episode, a TAPS investigator started getting excited at one "hot spot" of extra high EMF field. He had his meter held up near the ceiling in the basement where I could clearly see that he was no more than 6 inches from a very large high-voltage outlet. His normal dayjob was a Roto-Rooter plumber...so I guess we should cut him some slack.

Industry does not want us to know what the long-term effects are.

In a 1999 paper titled "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Is prolonged exposure to environmental level powerline frequency electromagnetic fields a co-factor to consider in treatment?" by D. Maisch, B. Rapley, R.E. Rowland, J. Podd they write:

"NCRP DRAFT REPORT GUIDELINES (1995)

The biological effects of EMFs were examined in great detail by an expert committee of the US National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), a congressionally chartered organisation which was contracted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1983 to conduct a review of the biological effects of ELF EMFs.

Work was discontinued in 1986 due to funding cuts at the EPA, but resumed in 1991. In early 1995 the draft of the 800-page NCRP report was leaked to the New York based publication Microwave News, which published the report's findings in August 1995. The final report was supposed to be publicly available in early 1996, but has received such intense industry opposition to its findings that its final outcome remains uncertain.

The Committee's membership was described by chairman Dr. Ross Adey as "carefully selected to cover the great majority of societal interests on this scientific problem, including power industry engineers, epidemiologists, public health specialists as well as molecular and cellular biologists"(13). The draft report generally endorses a 2 mG (0.2uT) exposure limit, having immediate implications for new day care centres, schools and playgrounds, and for new transmission lines near existing housing.


What are some of the biological effects the study identified?

They wrote the following:

From studies on humans the committee cites evidence for a link between EMFs and: 1) childhood and adult cancer, including leukemia and brain cancer; 2) teratological effects and other reproductive anomalies; 3) neuroendocrine and autonomic responses which, separately or collectively, may have pathophysiological implications; 4) neurochemical, physiological, behavioural and chronobiological responses with implications for development of the nervous system.

From laboratory studies the committee notes that EMFs: 1) affect cell growth regulation in animal and tissue models in a manner consistent with tumour formation; 2) increase tumour incidence and decrease tumour latencies in animals; 3) alter gene transcriptional processes, the natural defence response of T-lymphocytes and other cellular processes related to the development and control of cancers; 4) affect neuroendocrine and psychosexual responses.


Effects above, in the paper are listed to include Alzheimer's, which cases are increasing exponentially as the years pass. One of my more recent research projects has been to examine existing studies (which are scarce) to examine the alleged causal link between long-term EMF exposure and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)...and in addition examine an alleged connection between fibromyalgia syndrome and abduction experiences. The going is difficult because my field is EE, not biology...but thankfully I've been developing some contacts with folks who do have more experience in the medical field than I do.

Needless to say - there is enough evidence to suggest that there are elements to this issue that are not being openly shared with the public...and I find that terribly unfortunate. To readers, I highly promote a proactive approach - keep your distance from high-powered electrical sources, don't live near high power lines, and don't keep cellphones attached to your body 24 hrs a day (different type of radiation, I know...but similar biological effects). Just keep your distance and respect that the energy from electrical systems extend beyond their physical boundaries. Rome had lead poisoning...modern society has an electrical circuit that extends and connects in an unbelievable web that stretches the entire globe. To think such a global power system would have no effect on us is somewhat naive.

Best,
-Ryan
---
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Postby caleban » Wed Dec 05, 2007 4:29 am

Needless to say - there is enough evidence to suggest that there are elements to this issue that are
not being openly shared with the public...and I find that terribly unfortunate.


But not necessarily intentional, or a conspiracy. Our society is becomming compartmented.
Communication across vastly different knowledge areas is a problem even with the advent
of the internet. I suspect you are aluding to the public being influenced from this type of thing,
which is public fearmongering, but with some slight factual basis.

Cell Phone hazard video.
http://www.cellphone-health.com/index.htm

I personally prefer the more moderate viewpoints expressed by these types:

EMF and Health research (National Institute of Environmental Health)
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/

World Health Organization Research Database for EMF
http://www.who.int/peh-emf/research/database/en/

To readers, I highly promote a proactive approach - keep your distance from high-powered
electrical sources, don't live near high power lines, and don't keep cellphones attached to your
body 24 hrs a day (different type of radiation, I know...but similar biological effects). Just keep
your distance and respect that the energy from electrical systems extend beyond their physical
boundaries. Rome had lead poisoning...modern society has an electrical circuit that extends and
connects in an unbelievable web that stretches the entire globe. To think such a global power
system would have no effect on us is somewhat naive.


But to react as if it is the cause of all ills without foundation is equally naive. Before you go down
that road, stop at the vendors along the way and get your personal EMF protector right now, for
only $29.95 :

http://www.healingcolorsdvd.com/emfprotection.htm

I agree that the effects caused by an intense External Magnetic Field would be an interesting study...
however one study I find critical at the moment are the effects caused by ELF - low freq. EMF.


Wow, am I ever confused by that. I think you have allowed strange terminology into your
vocabulary. The folks doing medical research in this area generally are not geared towards
Physics/Maxwell Equations etc, which means (smile) strange terminology, but a rational look
at the big picture will need a less medical and more physics type posture.
Your EE department research is what applies here. EMF in regard to physics is commonly
intrepreted to mean Electro-Magnetic Field (vastly different from "external magnetic field", which is
not what I would call common terminology at all), or in the EE department, may refer to
Electro-Motive Force, which describes the concept of "voltage".

Where I think you are heading with this (based on the title) is of interest so I apologize for
sounding as a stickler for the wording. I am just trying to nudge you towards the physics/EE
terminology as being (my opinion) necessary for best understanding.

References:

Wiki definition of Electromagnetic field
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field

Wiki definition of Magnetic Field
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field


Near and Far Field explained
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_and_far_field

Unfortunately, no handy page on wiki for "field taper".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Se ... aper&go=Go
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Postby ryguy » Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:16 am

caleban wrote:
Needless to say - there is enough evidence to suggest that there are elements to this issue that are
not being openly shared with the public...and I find that terribly unfortunate.


But not necessarily intentional, or a conspiracy. Our society is becomming compartmented. Communication across vastly different knowledge areas is a problem even with the advent of the internet. I suspect you are aluding to the public being influenced from this type of thing, which is public fearmongering, but with some slight factual basis.


Hi caleban - great to read your response, thanks for posting.

In response to the above - I'm not sure that I would call it a conspiracy - at least I hope it didn't come across that way. What I'm alluding to is only that technology use, all too often, exceeds our understanding of it. Good example - for years many medicines, antiseptics, etc used poisonous chemicals, many were carcinogens, others were simply nasty for things like the nervous system - mercury for example.

All I'm "alluding" to - is that I believe there could be a health concern in areas near high power lines and equipment, and *might* be the case for devices that transmit high-frequency energy, especially where the source is placed so close to the body (right up against the temple...nice...).

I personally prefer the more moderate viewpoints expressed by these types:

EMF and Health research (National Institute of Environmental Health)
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/

World Health Organization Research Database for EMF
http://www.who.int/peh-emf/research/database/en/


Same here - thanks for the links. And...are you trying to imply that the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP) is radical?

But to react as if it is the cause of all ills without foundation is equally naive. Before you go down that road, stop at the vendors along the way and get your personal EMF protector right now, for
only $29.95 :

http://www.healingcolorsdvd.com/emfprotection.htm


Cute. Sarcasm.

I agree that the effects caused by an intense External Magnetic Field would be an interesting study...
however one study I find critical at the moment are the effects caused by ELF - low freq. EMF.


Wow, am I ever confused by that. I think you have allowed strange terminology into your
vocabulary.


Not my vocabulary - I used the term that the person whose email I was replying to used. I am ashamed to admit that I had no idea what he was trying to refer to either...trust me, I have seen some kook science articles in my time, but I was trying to be polite to the man and reply that sure...it would be interesting. But what's more interesting is an examination of the real biological effects of any Electro-Magnetic field (EMF).

The folks doing medical research in this area generally are not geared towards Physics/Maxwell Equations etc, which means (smile) strange terminology, but a rational look at the big picture will need a less medical and more physics type posture.


I agree.

Your EE department research is what applies here. EMF in regard to physics is commonly intrepreted to mean Electro-Magnetic Field (vastly different from "external magnetic field", which is not what I would call common terminology at all), or in the EE department, may refer to Electro-Motive Force, which describes the concept of "voltage".



Right...thanks for the little refresher course. I can't find anything in there that I disagree with. All Power Systems 101.

Where I think you are heading with this (based on the title) is of interest so I apologize for sounding as a stickler for the wording. I am just trying to nudge you towards the physics/EE terminology as being (my opinion) necessary for best understanding.


lol...ok..I think I understand. I made the mistake of using the man's term even though it didn't apply to the subject at hand. But I assumed what he *meant* to say was a high intensity electro-magnetic field. I didn't bother correcting his terminology (because, frankly, it's rude.) But I did want to point out to him that an EMF field does not have to be high-intensity to have effect on a biological system (again, see the NCRP report I cited...I can give you a link to that and many other valid studies - if you're interested).

References:

Wiki definition of Electromagnetic field
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field

Wiki definition of Magnetic Field
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field


P.S. - try to avoid wiki as a research source....the credentials of the editors are uncertified, and many times the data is either wrong, or very poorly cited.

Regardless - I'm very glad to see that you do have an interest in the topic...and I agree with you that as with any study of this kind, a moderate approach is important. The last thing I would suggest is that people go out and buy a "protective" magnetic watch.

However - if ever find yourself in the vacinity of a very large high-power transformer (yeah...you know the kind that HUMS and heats up any enclosure it is in)...trust me, you're getting showered with a real nice dose of EMF. Anyone who works or lives around any location with elevated EMF should be aware of what it does to the human body over time.

Although - since I don't think it was very clear in my first post - this is a hypothesis that needs more research. As I wrote - the going is slow, but there is certainly enough evidence to suggest that the effects are very real.

-Ry
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Postby caleban » Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:56 am

are you trying to imply that the National Council on Radiation Protection &
Measurements (NCRP) is radical?


Not at all. Only that it came across to me to be using medical folks to write the physics.

Cute. Sarcasm.


No. I placed my own humor in an observation. It will come across as sarcasm or other negatives when you do not see the same observation the way I see it.

P.S. - try to avoid wiki as a research source....the credentials of the editors are uncertified, and many times the data is either wrong, or very poorly cited.


I agree. Thats why I use it. (smile) In the case you cited, I was seeking common definitions of physics terms. Where are those definitions wrong ? And if they are, you then have an easy opening for rebuttal, you can demonstrate your expertise (perhaps at my own virtual expense), but you do the work, and we all profit from the result. I like that. Virtual Management ?

Although - since I don't think it was very clear in my first post - this is a hypothesis that needs
more research.


Now we really agree. But of the same priority as other contributing medical factors ? A hundred possible topics here. But please continue where you were heading. Ignore me. I have overtly biased this thread.
I apologize.
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Postby ryguy » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:54 pm

caleban wrote:Now we really agree. But of the same priority as other contributing medical factors ? A hundred possible topics here. But please continue where you were heading. Ignore me. I have overtly biased this thread.
I apologize.


Please don't apologize - I actually enjoy someone who can step up and demand that science/physics is adhered to when any hypothesis or study such as this is embarked upon. I think we likely agree on much more than we may disagree on.

One correction does need to be made:

caleban wrote:
are you trying to imply that the National Council on Radiation Protection &
Measurements (NCRP) is radical?


Not at all. Only that it came across to me to be using medical folks to write the physics.


The NCRP only has some medical folks for their particular expertise - if you read the quote I cited where the members were described, you'll notice there are also engineers on the Council.

The Committee's membership was described by chairman Dr. Ross Adey as "carefully selected to cover the great majority of societal interests on this scientific problem, including power industry engineers , epidemiologists, public health specialists as well as molecular and cellular biologists"(13).


I personally know power systems engineers - and they "get" the physics involved here. If the list of folks on the Council are of the calibre described here, I'd think that the draft findings should not simply be brushed aside as irrelevent.

However, you make a good point here - there was a direction I was heading, as the title shows. And that is - the heart of what I'm interested in is whether there exists any correlation between the geographical location of abductees (preferably clusters of them), and abnormally high levels of environmental EMF. One clue for such a correlation (one of many) as I mentioned in the first post, and the reason for this hypothesis, fibromyalgia. When I read testimony from a group of abductees who had recognized an odd pattern where an inordinate number of abductees began having their "contact" experiences only after symptoms of fibromyalgia, I began to wonder about common environmental factors among abductees.

I provided one citation in the first post that related some of the biological effects EMF can have on the human body, and I have a large number of other studies that support it, however proving such a correlation above would require a epidemiological study that few scientists would likely pursue (because it has to do with "alien" abductees).

However - if you feel that there isn't a case for EMF having long-lasting biological effects on the human body, I'm definitely interested in debating that issue with you, if you like.

-Ry
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Postby caleban » Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:50 am

However - if you feel that there isn't a case for EMF having long-lasting biological
effects on the human body, I'm definitely interested in debating that issue with you, if you like.


I am not sure we have a debate now. You have said this is a hypothesis that needs more
research. Debating that premise means we argue extrapolation at best and speculation
at worst. (which may be entertaining but doesn't end up being a learning experiance for
either of us.) It would now be more productive to argue "how do you test this hypothesis? "
Or the possible correlation you are headed towards.

I read your first posting to imply that evil EMF was a "given", and interpreted this to be
another global warming type, or second-hand smoke deaths type of consensus/poll
science as your "core" starting point. I haven't seen you blantantly do that before
so I wanted to quote you from another thread about - "lol...that little post is
Exopolitics in a nutshell. No more arguing about whether aliens visit earth...
let's all collectively, as a group, simply "accept" it as true - and go from there. lol "
(Your own, Cute. Sarcasm ? )
I saw a parallel here, expecially when you took a slight "vendor" warning approach to all
readers on the power line thing. My goal was to see if you were joking or may actually
be prevented from headed towards selling tin foil hats to protect from evil EMF.
Too many good, logical folks in these borderline mythology areas seem to
just "lose" it lately. (My Opinion)
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Postby ryguy » Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:17 pm

Ahh....great reply caleban, and I understand completely, thank you.

It would now be more productive to argue "how do you test this hypothesis? "
Or the possible correlation you are headed towards.


I agree - while this has been a project I keep placing on the back-burner because of the Ufology update we're working on daily, it's not too far back there. So I would like to move forward with this correlation shortly, and any suggestions as to how to test such a hypothesis is not only accepted, but encouraged.

I read your first posting to imply that evil EMF was a "given", and interpreted this to be another global warming type, or second-hand smoke deaths type of consensus/poll science as your "core" starting point. I haven't seen you blantantly do that before so I wanted to quote you from another thread about -


Thank you - I take that as a huge compliment, and I promise that I've not changed the methods that we've always tried to adhere to (and which we stand for.) I definitely don't imply that EMF is a given cause of these illnesses - however I do imply, and accept as scientifically validated by various "good" studies (although not yet completely proven to the point of being considered a solid theory) are the biological effects of EMF fields. Those effects (which I do feel not many people are really congizent) are my starting point to explore whether a correlation exists with incidents of abduction and/or paranormal (such as haunted houses) experiences. Geographical clusters of those events are obviously preferred, but very difficult to locate because so many people don't advertise the experiences that they are having.

Some advice from anyone, particularly scientists/researchers, on how to go about collecting data on this hypothesis would definitely be very helpful.

"lol...that little post is
Exopolitics in a nutshell. No more arguing about whether aliens visit earth...
let's all collectively, as a group, simply "accept" it as true - and go from there. lol "
(Your own, Cute. Sarcasm ? )


haha...yes it was...I'm already starting to like you.. lol :)

I saw a parallel here, expecially when you took a slight "vendor" warning approach to all readers on the power line thing. My goal was to see if you were joking or may actually be prevented from headed towards selling tin foil hats to protect from evil EMF.

Too many good, logical folks in these borderline mythology areas seem to
just "lose" it lately. (My Opinion)


I couldn't agree more. One good example is Greer's departure from encouraging USG disclosure of UFO data to his focus on "free energy". So, trust me I understand your concern more than you know (please hang around, because we will be outlining why so many UFO researchers have taken such odd departures from logic).

With that said - another aspect of fringe research that I feel strongly about is that mainstream scientists should be willing to explore the paranormal in the same manner and with the same methods as they do "accepted" avenues of study. There is enough evidence to support the premise that people are having very real experiences - and scientists are failing the public when they refuse to explore what is causing those experiences. That lack of scientific input leads to speculation and the generation of extreme theories by the public.

Thanks for your insight here....very much appreciated!

-Ry
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Postby murnut » Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:53 pm

With that said - another aspect of fringe research that I feel strongly about is that mainstream scientists should be willing to explore the paranormal in the same manner and with the same methods as they do "accepted" avenues of study. There is enough evidence to support the premise that people are having very real experiences - and scientists are failing the public when they refuse to explore what is causing those experiences. That lack of scientific input leads to speculation and the generation of extreme theories by the public.



Aye...I wonder what prevents this from happening? :roll:
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Postby ryguy » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:35 pm

Oh - some fantastic reading on the correlation between abduction experiences and neurological illnesses/diseases that effect sleep. This talk also touches on the impact that the person's belief system has on how the experience is later "recalled". Fascinating talk - my interest in what he says is mostly how they found an apparent link between abductees and people who suffer from problems with the sleep rhythm falling out of synch (paralysis/REM synch).

The lecture is very long - but definitely worth the read for anyone interested in current research on the phenomenon of abductions and/or "contact" experiences.

The following was published at the Irvine Health Foundations website.

---

http://www.ihf.org/resources/2005_lectures/mcnally_trans.htm

Remembering Trauma
Dr. Richard J. McNally
Harvard University
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thank you very much for the introduction. I’m delighted and honored to be speaking here at UIC. UCI, excuse me.

I got my Ph.D. at UIC, you see. I’m perseverating on that. University of Illinois, Chicago. It’s the letters reversed here. UCI.

Actually I’m giving two talks here and I was under instructions to have two talks on the same topic, but without any overlap in terms of what’s being presented. What I decided to do—since this is the public lecture—is to concentrate tonight on talking about some of the controversial issues in the area of trauma. I’ll talk about some of our data and some of our research, of course, as well.

I wanted to try to talk about some of the big picture concerns in the field of post-traumatic stress disorders because—of any area in psychology today—this one certainly is the most controversial and, I think, the one having most of the contacts with a lot of big public issues that you hear about in the news.
So first of all, what is trauma? What are we referring to when we refer to trauma?

First of all, I think it’s important to realize that the concept, really, is a surgeon’s concept. It’s really coming out of general medicine, referring either to a direct physical blow to the body, or the resulting damage that occurs from that blow.

But in 19th century European psychiatry, these guys coined this term “psychic trauma”, or psychological trauma. And what this really amounted to was sort of a metaphorical extension of the surgical term to the mind. And what that really meant is that events are traumatic in virtue of their meaning, not in virtue of their physical properties.

Now if we fast-forward to 1980, to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, that basically—the DSM-III—is the manual for diagnosing mental disorders. It specifies the criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. And what we find in DSM-III is trauma being recognized—ratified, so to speak—in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder—the diagnostic criteria—involves something called Criterion A, which sort of defined what a trauma is, for those of us who are diagnosing things. Traumatic stressors, in the original sense of DSM-III, where this set of events that fall outside the boundary of everyday experience and that provoke the stress in nearly everyone. Now the canonical or prototypic traumatic stressors—the sorts of things that the framers, if you will, of DSM-III had in mind—were things such as being confined to a concentration camp; being exposed to combat or rape. This was the original idea.

Now DSM-III, then, tied the concept of trauma to that of the diagnosis of PTSD. Now post-traumatic stress disorder—I’m not going to into all the diagnostic criteria, but to give you an idea here—the core idea behind this anxiety disorder is that this is a disorder not about the future—like most anxiety disorders are, people worrying about things that might happen to them—but rather, a disorder about the past, about memory. That is to say, a person does not merely remember the trauma; they tend to relive it as if it were happening all over again. That’s the core idea. So they have intrusive recollections, flashback experiences, nightmares, and so forth, linked to the traumatic event.

Also involved in the diagnostic criteria, the sense of numbing—a feeling of being emotionally cut off from other people and a desire to avoid reminders of the trauma.

And finally, a miscellaneous group of arousal symptoms—such as startle reactions, irritability, difficulty sleeping.

Now DSM-III presumed sort of a tight link between exposure to a traumatic stressor—an event that was overwhelming terrifying and perceived as life-threatening—not the sort of everyday stressors we’d normally encounter—and the symptoms of PTSD.

But what if someone has these symptoms—has these symptoms following exposure to a non-canonical stressor—should the person then be denied the diagnosis? Can we legislate symptoms and say, oh, you can’t have those symptoms, you didn’t have the right kind of stressor? I mean, you know, it’s kind of a funny idea when you think about it.

And so now DSM-IV changed the concept of a trauma. It broadened it. I was on this committee of the DSM-IV, there was about twelve of us psychiatrists, psychologists. I’m partly to blame, I suppose, for some of the problems in this regard.

But the idea behind this was to not exclude people. Now the Criterion A—the definition of a trauma—broadened to something that someone has experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with. An event or events that involve actual or threatened death, or serious injury, or threat for the physical integrity of the self or others, and it provoked fear, helplessness, or horror.

Now what this has produced in our field—and here’s Controversy #1, the thing that we’re sort of dealing with right now—it’s kind of a conceptual bracket creep. And the definition of what counts as a trauma—once this was this narrow band of sort of this natural kind, if you will, of events that supposedly produced the profile of PTSD.

But now this is expanded. Non-canonical stressors from within the boundaries of everyday life now qualify—for example—learning about the death of a loved one. Granted, this is not a pleasant experience, but again, it’s not one that really lies outside the boundaries of everyday experience either. In some sense, it’s part of the fabric of human life.

In fact, one no longer need to be the recipient of life threat. Recall, this can be you’re confronted with information about something bad that might have happened, or is threatened to have happened, to somebody else.

So learning about a threat to the integrity of another now counts as exposure to trauma. Partly this was included to include things such as childhood sexual abuse; or hearing vicarious events about people, for example, in the Lebanese conflicts in the 1980s, who would hear about relatives being kidnapped and tortured by militia. Then they developed nightmares about something that they never saw or witnessed, but only heard about, confronted with.

But now, where we started with something that was outside the bounds of everyday experience, Naomi Breslau—epidemiologist doing research in southeastern Michigan—found that approximately 90% of people living in this part of the Midwest had been exposed to traumatic events under the new DSM criteria.

But some people say, well, does the bracket creep really matter? Why should we care? Expanding the scope of the qualifying stressors need not, after all, inflate the prevalence of PTSD. The person must still meet the symptomatic criteria, supposedly. So you’d have to get the event, then these criteria.

On the other hand, if trauma becomes an all-purpose idiom of distress—a trope for misfortune in the modern world, so it gets vectored into our thinking about human life—will it shape experience in ways that undermine resilience in our culture? Will it trivialize, generalize, genuine traumatic stress reactions? If we are putting under the same bracket getting into a car accident and being in Auschwitz, is this really the same kind of thing?

Whoops. Well, it rendered difficult to elucidate the mechanisms underlying symptomatic expression. Here, for example, at UCI—I got it right this time—seriously, we’re dealing with here about memory, memory and emotion, and things of this sort. Traumatic memory. And if we broaden the concept of stress in such a way that all these sorts of things now fall under it, is it going to be possible to elucidate the mechanisms that give rise to flashbacks, nightmares, and so forth?

Also, will it blur the distinction between normal emotional reactions to horror and symptoms of disease?

Are we pathologizing, medicalizing human life to a greater extent?

For example, 9/11—the terrorist attacks—provides some interesting examples of kind of how the bracket creep thing is shaping our way of thinking about these events. This particular study was done right after the terrorist attacks.

Shuster’s [phonetic] group did interviews on the weekend after 9/11. With 560 American adults—not New York City residents really necessarily, but people all over the United States—and they were asked about five “symptoms”. They drew these five reactions from the DSM criteria, like irritability, difficulty sleeping, and so forth.

And people were asked, “Since last Tuesday, have you had any of these symptoms? And, if so, rate the severity of it.” Okay, and so if someone rated a four or five, that meant that they had this symptom.
And Shuster [phonetic] concluded that 44% of American citizens had substantial symptoms of stress. And they said, quite ominously, “The clinician should anticipate that even people far from the attacks will have trauma-related symptoms.”

And so for example, after this event happened, reporters would call you up and say, “Professor McNally, isn’t that the case? If you’re confronted with this information, and you have a reaction of horror, don’t you qualify as being trauma-exposed, even if you saw only footage on CNN?” Technically that’s correct.
Summers and Sittell [phonetic], in their recent book, referred to “9/11: The Mental Health Crisis That Wasn’t”. The reason why they referred to this is that, even in New York City, there was this initial uptake in symptoms—that vanished right away. What seemed to be going on is that responses of normal, human reactions—being angry at Osama Bin Laden, or thinking about the attacks a lot—was seen as symptoms of disease, rather than normal human emotion, that the line got blurred. And when the symptoms waned, that led to crips [phonetic] like this one.

Another controversial issue that has come up again and arises from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study—this was a large epidemiologic study funded by Congress in the late 1980s. And the purpose of the NVVRS was to gauge the need for services in Vietnam veterans.
And what happened in this study is that 30.9% of all of the men who served in the Vietnam theater affirmed having enough symptoms to qualify for PTSD since Vietnam. Another 22.5% had partial PTSD—significant symptoms that fell just short of criteria.

And so when you put all this together, you’ve got the remarkable result of over half of those who served in Vietnam, in this epidemiologic study, had post-traumatic stress disorder—either the full syndrome or partial syndrome.

But—and here’s the mystery and this is how this plays into the discussions about Iraq right now—the percentage of men who were assigned to combat units in Vietnam was 15%. Now people could have served in Vietnam—or also, as they are in Iraq—and not actually have a MOS, a military occupational specialty, that puts them in the front lines. They could, for example, be a truck driver exposed to traumatic events—ambushes and the like. That’s quite a problem as we speak.

On the other hand, this is quite striking, because that means twice as many develop PTSD as were in combat units. What was actually going on? This is one of the big mysteries.

So right now, when people are making speculations, how many people are likely to be developing PTSD after they return from Afghanistan and Iraq? The 30% number that you saw up here is the one that you keep hearing. But this is a very puzzling figure, because this is 30% of all those who serve—that means cooks, clerks, clerk typists, infantrymen, truck drivers, everybody.

Now what explains this paradox? The most controversial book ever written, I think, on the Vietnam War and PTSD, Burkett and Whitley’s Stolen Valor, written by a Vietnam vet—these guys are making the claim, actually, that people are faking their trauma histories in order to get service-connected disability, and faking their symptoms, and so on and so forth.

Chris Free [phonetic], in an article that will appear in a couple of weeks and it’s going to cause an explosion when it appears in The British Journal of Psychiatry—what Free [phonetic] did is he tested Burkett’s thesis. And what he did, he had 100 patients claiming combat trauma, 94% with a PTSD diagnosis. These are from the Vietnam era, this [unintelligible].

What he did is he obtained military personnel records to attempt to verify the trauma history. So in other words, instead of just basing it on self-report, he then actually got the archival data, the historical data.

He did what a historian does. He looks at the archives. He doesn’t just base it on self-report.

And what he found is that he could only document the trauma in only 40% of the cases. Some were not even in Vietnam or even in the military. It’s a very, very creepy finding.

This is as you can see, why this is going to cause quite an uproar. 40% of them, they clearly couldn’t document. They were telling the truth. The other 60%, it’s not clear what was going on.

However, does this explain the epidemiology controversy? I don’t think so. The few NVVRS subjects were not seeking treatment, nor were they seeking service-connected disability compensation, whereas that was the case with Free’s subjects. What’s going on?

Well, first of all, there’s no Criterion F in DSM-III-R. That was the impairment criterion, which stipulates that symptoms must cause impairment in everyday life for the diagnosis to be assigned.

But one possibility that raises is that we—and I was one of the clinical interviewers in the NVVRS, so it sounds like it’s a mea culpa sort of thing—but we were out there interviewing these folks. We tracked them down in the community. We asked them about the traumatic events. They’d give us the symptoms. We’d follow the rule—apply the criteria; they got the diagnosis. But we didn’t actually check their records. We’re not clear what’s going on there.

One possibility is memory distortion shaped by an effort after meaning. When we interviewed these guys in the NVVRS in the late 1980s, it was a congressionally mandated study that we’re going to find out about how Vietnam had affected you, or didn’t affect you, or what have you.

And one study that we also did—this had nothing with Vietnam—that Schwartz [phonetic] and Kowalski [phonetic] and I did, speaks to the possibility that one’s emotional and clinical state at the time of the interview may actually shape how someone remembers the trauma. The study that we did—Schwartz [phonetic] and Kowalski [phonetic] and myself—was actually about a massacre that happened north of Chicago, in a suburb of Chicago. This woman came into the elementary school. She was a woman who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Had gone off her medication, got a gun, and just started shooting the children in the elementary school, then dashed off and put the gun to her head, and blew her brains out. Terrible event.

We had assessed the adults who were present at the school shooting—teachers, teacher’s aides, school nurse, those sorts of things. We assessed memory for the massacre twice. Assessed the person’s PTSD symptoms, what they remembered, how close they were to the shooter, and how much blood there was. Did they think they were actually going to die, and so on and so forth. We did this twice.

And what we found was that the clinical status of the subjects at Time #2 predicted how well they remembered the event. So we gave the same questionnaire one time, then gave it again.

So for example, if you were doing worse at Time #2, you remembered the trauma as worse than you reported it the first time. So you saw it, you remembered it as differently. First time, you said you were outside of the school building; now you’re right outside the door where the shooting was occurring. You’re actually misremembering the trauma, predicted by your clinical state. Conversely, if you’re doing better, you tended to minimize the memory.

And so we got this sort of a very unsettling feeling that how a person remembers the trauma—the meaning they impose upon it—can be shaped by how they’re doing today.

The implication for the NVVRS is they have somebody who is having difficulty in their life for whatever reason. It could have been the war; it could have been occupational difficulties; whatever. But when we asked them, think back to Vietnam—what was your worst experiences? And how about these symptoms? Did we sort of provide them a way of thinking about how they are doing now and connecting it to their earlier experiences in such a way that inflated a prevalence? I don’t know. But that’s another possibility.

Now the implications for the veterans of Iraq and Iran—excuse me, Iraq and Afghanistan—someone says, “Not yet.” Oh, dear.

The figure that we’re hearing from the VA is they’re predicting 30% of all those who served—not 30% in the combat units—that’s probably going to be too high, because it’s based on the mysterious NVVRS data.
But the real point, I think, and the real challenge is not to make the mistakes that we did after the Vietnam War. First of all, nobody was getting proper treatment for years. And then, when they did get proper treatment, these were largely inpatient units where everybody had the diagnosis and you just talked about the war and so forth in this very unsystematic fashion, and nobody got better. Those units have quietly closed.

So the key, I think, today really is to provide empirically supported, cognitive behavioral therapies—or psychopharmacologic treatment—three to six months or so after people return, if they are not recovering. Almost everybody’s going to have some normal reactions. The key, then, is if the symptoms fail to wane three to six months after the person is still suffering. At that point, clinicians need to jump in and provide the proper services to prevent the chronic problems that occurred after the Vietnam era, because these guys weren’t even being treated for years.

So you need to prevent the chronicity. And you also need to avoid medicalizing normal human emotions. Almost everybody is going to have some reactions coming back. That’s normal. It’s not mental illness.
And so it’s the failure for the symptoms to wane—for the memories failing to lose their toxic grip on the person—that is when you have a problem that warrants treatment.

So at any rate, the central dilemma of the concept of trauma here is that if traumatic stressor is defined as an event in the original narrow sense—as one that provokes overwhelming terror, is perceived as life-threatening, and possesses its pathogenic power in virtue of its meaning, not in its physical properties—then does that authorize, though, bracket creep and render the concept of trauma wholly subjective, if it’s the meaning of the event for you? Or does reality somehow constrain perception of threat in an important way? I’m not sure what the answer to this is, but this is something that we’re grappling with right now.

Okay, so the whole issue of trauma and how it relates to memory of war and so forth—with Vietnam, with 9/11, and with Iraq and Afghanistan—is one controversial issue.

Perhaps the biggest one, though, has been a civilian one. It’s the idea about how people remember—or forget—traumatic events. For example, are traumatic experiences vividly engraved in memory, or does the mind protect itself by banishing traumatic memories from awareness? Do people repress them if they get too stressful, or dissociate them?

For example, these three gentlemen here—Daniel Brown, Dan Brown, that’s not that fiction writer. This is another gentleman. Dan Brown, Alan Scheflin, and Cory Hammond, in a book that’s won many, many awards in the field of traumatology, they say: “There is overwhelming scientific support for the existence of repressed or dissociated memories of trauma.” Overwhelming evidence.

Dan Brown testifies in the courtroom a great deal and says that 85 studies document this. He says although most people remember their traumatic events all too well, a significant minority of people—20% or 30% of them perhaps—are so traumatized, the emotion is so intense, that the mind blocks it off, seals it off, renders it incapable of recall except under very special circumstances. Perhaps in psychotherapy later, when it’s safe to recall it and then the person can get the memories back.

Now the problem, though, is that the traumatic amnesia theorists—such as these gentlemen—often misinterpret the very studies they cite and support of the phenomenon. That’s the problem; the devil lies in the details. There are many, many different ways in which memory can go wrong, and not all of them are evidence that people repress or dissociate their most terrible experiences.

So for example, one confusion that you see is people confusing everyday forgetfulness with traumatic amnesia. So for example, after a traumatic event, sometimes people say, “My memory’s not as good as it used to be.” They’ll have difficulty concentrating, everyday forgetfulness. But post-traumatic memory impairment refers to everyday forgetfulness that develops after a trauma. It does not mean an inability to remember the trauma itself.

So for example, one of my colleagues at Harvard, Rich Mollica, is a psychiatrist who works with Cambodian survivors of the Pol Pot regime. And he’ll point out that these people—you know, they will go to the grocery store and they’ll forget what they were going to buy. They will leave a cake in the oven. They will forget someone’s birthday. The absentmindedness, everyday forgetfulness—their memory’s not as good as it used to be. But they haven’t forgotten Pol Pot.

So the fact that you can get memory impairment after trauma doesn’t mean an inability to remember the trauma itself. In fact, the intrusiveness of the memories seems to get in the way of everyday remembering.

Another confusion that you see in this literature is confusing psychogenic amnesia with traumatic amnesia. The terms sometimes are used interchangeably.

But psychogenic amnesia is a real and rare syndrome. It refers to sudden, massive retrograde memory loss, including loss of personal identity. There’s no obvious physical insult to the brain such as a head injury. It’s occasionally stress-induced, but seldom traumatic. It persists for hours, days, or weeks, and then suddenly remit.

So for example, somebody might have suddenly have one of these episodes and say, “Oh my god, who am I? I don’t know who I am. I’ve lost my identity. I don’t remember anything about my past.” It’s a very upsetting experience, as you can imagine. These people will see a neurologist, neuropsychiatrists. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious brain damage, and then usually it will remit. It’s kind of a very mysterious syndrome.

But it’s different from the so-called repressed memories of trauma, which is a selective inability to remember one’s most horrific experiences. In the controversial cases of repressed and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse, nobody forgets who he is or who she is. You don’t lose personal identity. But you do here.

Another one that’s confusing: incomplete encoding with traumatic amnesia. Another confusion. It says, oh well, the DSM-IV, it says under PTSD: “Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.” There it is, right there; repressed memory, right in the criteria.

Unfortunately, the meaning of this symptom is quite ambiguous. The reason why is that the mind is not a video recorder. It’s not as if we sort of soak up all of our sensory impressions, encoding everything about our mind on some videotape. That’s not how it works.

Therefore not every aspect of a traumatic experience—or indeed, any experience—will get encoded into memory in the first place. Attention often narrows under stress, where certain elements of the perceptual field gets into memory, but the rest of it never does. And so incomplete encoding must not be confused with an inability—amnesia—to remember.

So for example, people robbed at gunpoint sometimes fail to encode the face of their assailant, sometimes called weapon focus. Now, a later inability to recall the assailant’s face would not constitute amnesia, because the victim never encoded it. So for example, if somebody sticks up somebody at the 7-11—the guy’s looking down at the gun and so forth, handing the money over—and the policeman comes in later and says, “What did the guy look like?” He says, “I don’t know.” But he can describe the gun. So he didn’t repress the memory of the face, because the face never got encoded. He just didn’t encode it.
So an inability to remember some aspect of the trauma—like for example, the robber’s evidence—that’s not evidence of repressed memory of trauma. It’s evidence for selective encoding of the most relevant aspect of the scene: the gun, sticking at your stomach.

Another one is confusing childhood amnesia with traumatic amnesia. For example, a famous study done by the sociologist Linda Meyer Williams involved surveying 129 women who had been assessed for childhood sexual abuse—CSA—17 years earlier. They had been taken to the emergency room, usually by their mothers, for suspected and sometimes confirmed childhood sexual abuse

When later surveyed in a large medical health survey, these women—who investigators had been almost certainly abused as kids—they were asked many, many medical questions. And one of them was, “Were you ever sexually abused as a child?” And 16 women, 12% of them said no, I didn’t think so. Never happened to me. Next question.

However, some of Williams’ deniers were very, very young when assessed for abuse. Some of these, they were three and four years old when taken to the emergency room because the mother suspected that her boyfriend, or the stepfather had fondled the child, and so forth.

But most people could remember very little from before the age of four years. Anything, you could hardly get anything. Just tiny little fragments. And therefore childhood amnesia, in many of these cases, rather than traumatic amnesia may be involved.

So one question, and someone says, oh—well, somebody was traumatized as a child. You want to say, “Well, how young was the person when that happened?” You know, if it’s happening before kindergarten, it just may not be there.

Another problem here is confusing nondisclosure with traumatic amnesia. This also applies to the Williams study. There have been a couple of studies where known abuse victims—physically abused kids—recessed on time #1 and they said, oh, they describe the physical abuse. On time #2, they were interviewed by another group of interviewers, and they denied ever having been abused.

Time #3—the investigative team, a group of interviewers from the team, went back and said, well, you know, first time we met you, you had described these events. Your father used to beat you, and these sorts of things. And the second time we asked you whether you were ever physically abused, you said no. What gives? And so they asked them about the discrepancy.

And in each case, the person said, “Okay, I remembered the second time. I just didn’t want to talk about it.”

“It was too upsetting.”

“My father was manic-depressive at the time. He’s on lithium. He’s doing fine now today. Let’s let a sleeping dog lie.”

“I just didn’t want to talk about that.”

Or, “I didn’t like the interviewer. The interviewer was a jerk.” Saying things like this.
And, “I didn’t want to talk about it.” Or, “It was too personal.”

The moral of the story—and this is how tough this field is—is that when somebody says no, that didn’t happen, you’re never quite sure. Is it an inability to remember, or just a failure to disclose, an unwillingness to disclose? And you have to assess this whole picture. In this case, they have plenty of reason not to.

Another example here is confusing organic amnesia with traumatic amnesia. Here’s an example from this award-winning book by Dan Brown—not that fiction writer, not the guy who writes, what is it, The Da Vinci Code.

Here’s a quote from the book: “Dollinger, 1985, found that two of the 38 children studied after watching lightning striking kill a playmate had no memory of the event.”

Now Dollinger’s study, this is what happened. This is what he’s referring to. This happened in downstate Illinois. In the Midwest, you get these thunderstorms that come roaring in. There was a soccer game going on. These elementary school kids are playing, and suddenly this thunderstorm comes in. Before they could clear the field, this lightning bolt comes right down onto the field and kills a kid—right in front all of his teammates and the opposing team. Just electrocutes him, right there. Horrific event.

And as Brown points out in his book, clearly, that’s a traumatic event. It has nothing to do with recovered memory therapy. It has nothing to do with sexual abuse. There’s plenty of corroboration. There’s all these witnesses. If that’s not trauma that’s repressed—what is?

However, Brown and all forgot to mention that both the amnesiac children had themselves been hit by side flashes from the main lightning bolt, knocked unconscious, and nearly killed.

A minor point, but it would have been worth mentioning. Organic amnesia is not psychological, traumatic amnesia. Being struck by lightning is bad for your memory, among other things.

These kids, there was an article in pediatrics that accompanied Dollinger’s report, and basically they were medevaced [phonetic] across the river—the Mississippi River—into St. Louis and it was an amazing story. These kids were saved. It was a clinical, medical miracle, so to speak. But they did not, in fact, have memory for the event. However, this is not a repressed memory.

And it’s interesting. These guys, when questioned, cross-examined about this—they say, well, you know, being struck by lightning is kind of emotionally upsetting. How do you know that it’s brain damage that causes the failure to remember and not the emotional effect? Well, the obvious answer is the other 38 kids who were not struck by lightning remembered it all too well and were haunted by the vivid memories of this terrible event.

Now here is the biggest confusion I think we see in the whole area, when people pull together all this evidence, is confusing not thinking about something for a long time with traumatic amnesia. For example, in the most famous study done on this topic, done by John Briere and Jon Conte—what these two guys did is they got consent to survey—send out a questionnaire survey—to 450 psychotherapy patients who had been in therapy—they were adults—working this therapists who specialize in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Briere and Conte gave them a big long questionnaire, and one of the questions on the questionnaire was, “Was there ever a time when you could not remember the forced sexual experience?” And darn near 60% of them answered affirmatively.

This has been presented as evidence for repressed memories of trauma. The study has been replicated many times with more or less the same kind of results.

However, an affirmative response to that question implies unsuccessful retrieval attempts. It implies that, you know, there was a period of time in my life I tried, and I tried, and I tried to remember that sexual abuse but I came up empty, I just couldn’t remember it.

And so then later, when these guys give them this questionnaire—was there ever a time when you tried to remember but couldn’t? They said yeah.

But if you think about it, if subjects were unaware of their abuse—on what basis would be attempt to recall it in the first place? Right? If you think about it.

So for example, I might say, okay, I’m pretty convinced my parents celebrated my second birthday. You know, that I had, like, a cake with two candles on it. That may have been a period of my life I tried, and I tried, and I tried to remember my second birthday, and I said pfft. I can’t get at it. Can’t remember it.

But I’ve got some basis for assuming. I look at pictures, there’s me with a bib on, the cake, and candles; so I said yeah, it must have happened, but I can’t remember it.

But in this case, why would somebody try to do this if they had no clues at all? I think what must be going on is that the respondents in the study must have interpreted the question as meaning, “Has there ever been a time when you did not think about your abuse?” That actually is an intelligible question. But not thinking about one’s abuse is not the same thing as being unable to remember it. And that is a very big difference. It’s inability to remember is what defines amnesia.

For example, Susan Clancy—one of my former graduate students and I—have been studying people reporting childhood sexual abuse histories. Some of them said they’ve always remembered their abuse—we call them the continuous memory subjects. Another group believed they harbor repressed memories of abuse, but they only infer that from various symptoms that they’re having.

And a third group—we call them the recovered memory subjects—report having been molested as kids; not having thought about it for many years; and then suddenly remembering it again. So we actually studied this group here. We’ve had several waves of subjects. This particular cohort comprised 27 adults, 17 women—we call them the recovered memory subjects. We can’t say—in this particular group—I’m not saying they were abused or they weren’t abused, so this is just their report. It’s very hard to corroborate reports of sexual abuse, even the continuous memories of sexual abuse—very tough. It’s not as if perpetrators are lining up to say, oh sure, I’ll be glad to corroborate. They don’t do this sort of thing.

But not having corroboration doesn’t mean it’s a false memory either. So you’ve got to put this in perspective.

The average age of these subjects was 41. The perpetrator was almost always known to the subject—older cousin, stepfather, grandfather, and so forth. A priest.

Average age was seven years, roughly. Some twenty-something years relapsed, on average, before recall. This is how they’re describing it.

But now here’s the typical case, though. And this is why the devil is in the detail of these cases. First of all, the typical person reported one or two episodes, usually a fondling. So technically it was clearly childhood exploitation molestation. No question about it. But it was not violent rape. So it was not the sort of violent coercion—none of these subjects were coerced or threatened.

What then happened is that there were a couple of these cases. And then there was a period of time with no retrieval cues—typically the reminders of the event.

So for example, the mother would kick the boyfriend out of the apartment, once she realized that he’d been fondling her daughter before she fell asleep at night—things of that sort. Or the family would move to a new neighborhood. Or the perpetrator would die. The kids sort of just set the memory aside, and so forth.

They didn’t understand what was going on at the time. When we asked them back then, “Well, how did you react?” They said, well, I didn’t know what was going on. It was gross. It was upsetting. It was frightening, puzzling. I didn’t know what he was doing. But I knew it was wrong, because he would say things like, shh, don’t tell anybody about this. You touch me and I’ll touch you, but this is our game, don’t tell anybody.

And the kid’s going, “Why is he whispering?” This is weird. So this is wrong. Something’s not right here.

But it was not as if the kid was exposed to an event that was traumatic in the narrow sense of the word, as being perceived as life threatening or overwhelmingly terrifying. That’s not how they describe it. They didn’t even have a concept of what was going on. They didn’t understand this was sexual; these were kids. But they knew it was wrong.

So there’s a long period of time in which they report not thinking about the abuse. Then they would encounter reminders later, and then something would just pop into mind. And at this point—this is how they’re describing it to us—now I understood what that person was doing. Now I understood what he was doing. Now I realize that I was sexually abused as a kid.

So it was an adult reappraisal of an event that they hadn’t thought about, and for many years. So technically—assuming these events actually happened, because we couldn’t corroborate them—but let’s assume, for the argument, that they did. So the kids were fondled. They didn’t understand what was going on. They were not traumatized in terms of terror, didn’t think about it for many years. Now they’re reminded of it. So it’s a recovered memory in that sense, but it’s not one that was repressed, dissociated, or otherwise unable to be recalled.

For example, had we spoken to them the year before they got the reminder, we asked them this; they would have remembered it. Okay? That’s a key point.

The CSA was puzzling, disgusting, or frightening, but not traumatic in the narrow sense of being overwhelmingly terrifying or perceived as life threatening. It was not a recovered memory of a trauma in the original, narrow sense of the word. Unpleasant, yes; but not perceived as life threatening.

Still—I hope this doesn’t need to be mentioned, but I’ll mention it anyway—it’s still morally reprehensible. What had happened here, in this field, you find people saying, well, if it doesn’t qualify as a trauma, or if it doesn’t produce psychiatric disease—does that mean it’s okay to molest kids? Of course not. It’s still morally reprehensible even if it does not produce disorder afterwards.

People exposed to traumatic events—by this I mean terrifying at the time they occur, events that are perceived as life threatening, in the original sense, it’d be a SIM [phonetic] III [phonetic] trauma—seldom, if ever, are incapable of remembering them. People may not think about certain events for a long time, especially if the events were not experiences traumatic at the time of the occurrence. But not thinking about something is not the same thing as being unable to remember it. And it’s this inability to remember that is the key to the repression, or dissociative amnesia, construct.

Now most of the research that we’ve done in the laboratory on recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse—which I’ll be presenting at the other departmental colloquium here—one of the problems that we’ve had, as I mentioned earlier, is it’s very hard to corroborate these memories.

For example, in one of the studies we did, we used a cognitive task that indicated sort of a general false memory propensity—a general tendency to form false memories of just simple word lists—in people who reported recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. This study, when we published it, caused a predictable uproar. But we couldn’t really tell how many of these people actually—with the sexual abuse memories—had actually recovered genuine memories that they hadn’t thought about for many years, like those subjects; or had developed false memories of trauma.

We had a dilemma on our hands. We wanted to test this false memory propensity issue. But we wanted to identify a group of subjects that we were pretty darn sure had not, in fact, experienced trauma, even though they had recovered memories of trauma.

So we put an ad in the newspaper: “Have you been abducted by aliens?”
“Researchers at Harvard are seeking adults to participate in a memory study”—da da, da da—who had been abducted by aliens. “For further information, please call Susan”—Susan Clancy, my grad student at the time. This gentleman right here, John Mack, was professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and based at Cambridge Hospital. That’s about a five-minute walk or so from my office, which is in the Department of Psychology in Cambridge.

John won the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for biography, a book about Lawrence of Arabia, a very eminent psychobiography. He is also the author of a book entitled Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens; New York Times bestseller in the 1990s.

And it’s funny because I told John—I said—“Yeah, I think I’m going to move into the alien abduction business.”

And he goes, “How are you going to recruit your subjects?”
I said, “Put an ad in the paper, what I always do.”
And he goes, “Rich, if you do that, you’re not going to get real abductees.”
Real experiencers. And I said to him, “What do you mean, not real ones?”
And he goes, “Well, you’re going to get people who are calling up in response to your ad—leaving answering machine messages on your answering machine—who are just playing jokes on you.”
He was right.

Just to give you an idea—I’ll show you some of our data here in a moment—yeah, doing research of this topic is different, believe me. For example, we had this one guy who would leave a message on our answering machine in our lab every night. You’d come in there and you’d play the message, and his message went something like this:
[intentionally unintelligible sounds]

Make it like he’s R2-D2, like he’s some sort of a space—delete, you know.
But this went on every week. Oh, it’s that guy again, you know. He never gave us the phone number of his spaceship, so we never recruited him.

But we did have people more sophisticated. We had this one guy once, he’d call us. And the message is something like this, he goes—I changed the name here, so, you know, protect this guy.
It goes something like this: “Hello, this is Bob Wilson. I’m calling from Boston Chevrolet. I saw your ad in the newspaper. I’ve been abducted by aliens. I’d like to hear more about your research study. So please call me at Boston Chevrolet at 555-1212.”

So Susan and I think—you know—we’ve got ourselves a live one here. So she calls and says, “Hi, this is Sue Clancy in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Is this Bob Wilson?”

He says, “Yeah, this is Bob Wilson. Are you in the mahket for a cah today?”

That’s how they talk in Boston. And she goes, “No, I’m not in the market for a car today, but I am responding to the message that you left on our answering machine about the research study.”

He goes, “The research study? What?”

She goes, “Yes, you had mentioned that you had been abducted by aliens and were interested in participating in our study on memory on this.”

He goes, “Aliens? Study? What are you talking about?”

And all of a sudden, you could hear all the other salesmen at Boston Chevrolet bursting out laughing on the other end of the line.”

Right. It was designed to answer the question, “Do alien abductees”—the real ones—“exhibit the psychophysiologic signature of post-trauma stress disorder while listening to their trauma scripts of their abduction experiences.

Here is the question, the real question here—translated in English—is, if somebody has recovered memories of a false trauma, false memories of a trauma that actually did not occur, will—in the laboratory—will they exhibit all the markers of someone who’s really been traumatized? Or do you really have to be traumatized to show the biological indicators? Or will a false memory of trauma drive a physiology, hitherto attributable to conditioning, to real traumatic experiences?

What we did, we used a paradigm called script-driven imagery. What we do in the procedure, we get people to write down these autobiographical narratives. We’ve got neutral ones, positive ones, stressful ones—and these were very stressful for abductees—and then traumatic ones. The most traumatic encounters with space aliens. Okay, write down these autobiographical memories.

Then what we do is we put them in these little 30-second scripts—audiotaped scripts—and we play them back to the subjects through headphones in the laboratory. They’re all hooked up to these monitors. We measure heart rate, how fast their heart is pounding. Skin conductives, how sweaty their palms are. They have these monitors picking up all this stuff. Electromyographic activity—that’s facial muscle grimacing, so the person’s sitting there like this, listening to these memories.

Now what happens here is that if you have post-traumatic stress disorder, and you hear an audio—a biographical memory—of your trauma played back to you, you show heightened reactivity. The question is, will a space alien abductee do so?

So for example, here is a typical script from an earlier study. This is what these look like. It’s May 1968. You’re on an ambush just north of blank, when your unit encounters a divisional size force. As the area becomes illuminated, the enemy attack with hand grenades. Your eyes open wide as hand-to-hand combat breaks out. You feel so frightened that your teeth cannot stop chattering. A grenade hits you in the head, and your heart begins to pound. You pick it up and throw it. The grenade explodes, wounding you. Your whole body shakes.

I’m speaking a bit faster, but this is 30 seconds. You see heightened reactivity in Vietnam vets.
Now let me tell you about our space alien abductees here. We had six women and four men. All of them had episodes of apparent sleep paralysis, accompanied by hynopompic—upon awakening—hallucinations.
Let me tell you what this is. For example, when you interview a space alien abductee, you say, “How did it all begin?”

Here’s the typical case. Well, I was lying in bed one night. I was lying in bed, shortly before dawn. I opened my eyes. I can see my bedroom in the semi-darkness. I wanted to roll over in my bed and I couldn’t. I was absolutely paralyzed. I couldn’t move. I was scared out of my mind. I was wide awake, but I couldn’t move.

Most people do not know what’s going on here, in this case. What also happens? They would also then start hearing buzzing sounds—zzz, zzz—like lights would be flashing. They have feelings of levitating off the bed, electrical sensations coursing through their body. And then suddenly they would sense a presence; sense a being in the room. And then suddenly they would see these little gray beings coming up to their bed. They’re absolutely in the midst of terror, but they can’t move, they’re paralyzed. Then suddenly they black out. They have missing time. They wake up later. They wonder, what was that all about? Terrified.

Now what’s going on here is that during rapid eye movement sleep—REM sleep, the stage of sleep when we do most of our dreaming—we’re completely paralyzed. Of course we don’t know that, because we’re asleep.

Now it’s a good thing that we’re paralyzed too, because otherwise you might get up and act out your dreams and hurt yourself. However, in one of these episodes, what happens is that the mental aspects of REM consciousness start changing before the motor paralysis does. So basically it’s a dyssynchrony. Things are sort of slightly out of whack for maybe ten, twelve seconds, maybe a little bit longer.

So the person’s awake. They can see their room, but they’re still paralyzed. And they realize that and say oh, my god. Most people don’t say, oh, a temporary dyssynchrony in the architecture of REM. No, they go, oh, my god; I’ve got a neurological disease.

So it’s uncommon sort of knowledge. You know, the hypnopompic hallucinations—these are the electrical sensations, seeing the beings in the room, and what have you—this is dreaming with your eyes open. So it’s the intrusion of REM mentation into wakefulness. So you’ve got your eyes open; you’re still kind of dreaming.

Now eight of our ten subjects had gone to mental health professionals—none of whom will be named in this room—who then said, oh, my god, you must have repressed the most terrifying memories of what happened next.

So they would give them proper reading material, of course, to help jog the memories; hypnotize them; asking them the appropriate set of questions; and, lo and behold, you’ve got the whole alien abduction there about what happened next. They’re whisked out of the windows, probed in spaceships, and all that kind of stuff. Had sex with aliens, met their hybrid offspring, and the whole bit.
Very vivid memories, though. This was a very vivid memory.

Now here is a picture right here to show you the psychobiological of sleep paralysis accompanied by hypnopompic hallucinations is sort of a cultural universital [phonetic], reported across history and across cultures. This is a painting by Henry Fuselli, a Swiss-born British painter of the late 18th Century and early supporter [phonetic] of Romanticism, called The Nightmare. There’s the namare [phonetic] up there, peeking it’s head in.

Now most sleep researchers say that’s not a nightmare, that’s sleep paralysis with hypnopompic hallucinations, a woman on her back like that. The fat little guy with the pointy ears, that’s an incubus—an agent of the Devil.

Now in 18th Century Europe, when you hallucinated—had a hypnopompic hallucination—it was the Devil. In Salem, in the late 17th Century, you see these records of the spectral image of the witch being seen in the room, when you read these depositions. It’s amazing.

Down South, it’s called “being ridden by the witch”. Up in Newfoundland, it’s called “being visited by the old hag”. But in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it’s “an encounter with a space alien”. So the idea here is that the mind creates these things, and then the culture shapes its content.

Now our alien abductees, we also asked them about other things too. They were into all kinds of neat stuff, like tarot cards, astrology, bioenergetic healing therapies.

They’re also very spiritual. And this is a key point. This makes them very different from people who recovery memories of childhood sex abuse. A lot of people—there are some guys in The New York Times already screaming at us saying we are trying to silence the voices of survivors by equating them with these guys. They’re very different in many ways. This is one of them. I’ll return to this later.

The control group, those are people who deny ever having been abducted by aliens. We can still find them, thankfully.

One person has sleep paralysis, but no hypnopompic hallucinations. I asked her, “What did you think was going on?” She said, “I thought I had neurological disease.” Right? I mean, you can’t move, right? It makes sense. But she did not have a recurrence, and so she forgot about it, but presumably did not repress it. These guys are much less into these New Age-y beliefs, so forth.

Now what’s interesting: as terrifying as this was initially, when they first started being taken—as they would put it—these guys are not, in fact, psychiatrically impaired. We do psychiatric assessments on them. They are not “crazy”. I agree with John Mack on that.

And they are also—as you can see—they’re also not depressed. For example, you can tell they’re not depressed just by looking at their BDIs. By that I meant their Beck Depression Inventory, not—you know—beady eyes like that.

Beck Depression Inventory. You cannot measure depression by looking at somebody’s eyeballs. Need to be clear about that.

But their Beck Depression Inventories are very, very low. We should all have beady eyes, that look.
Trait [phonetic] anxiety; also very low.

But where you start seeing the interesting thing: magical ideation. They score high on magical ideation. This questionnaire taps—the developers of it say, delicately— “belief in unconventional modes of causation”. So like, you know, astral projection and other things like that. So yeah, so these guys were endorsing this sort of wide range of beliefs.

They’re also high in absorption. Absorption is a trait tapping the ability to become pulled in by imaginal [phonetic] experiences, and a rich fantasy life, and so forth.

They are actually psychiatrically healthy at the time we assess them. They are—as you see—not depressed, by their—as I say—the BDIs, the trait [phonetic] anxiety, shows they’re doing fine, but they have high ideation and high absorption.

Okay. Now here is an example of an alien abduction script here to give you an idea of what this is like. You’re on the ship, walking down a corridor with an alien. You enter a room and see a group of hybrid children playing. They’re half alien and half human. Walking into another room, you see a group of aliens and humans standing in a circle around a table. Suddenly you realize that you must make love to this alien woman right there in front of everyone.

Your heart begins to beat faster and your hands become clammy and sweaty. Your face is flushed and you feel warm. You hate this. You detest having sex with a slimy, nonhuman alien—
But you have no choice. You are lying naked on the table, and she mounts you. You feel sick to your stomach.

This is—of course, the identity of the person is concealed—but this is a memory that actually surfaced under hypnosis after hypnopompic hallucinations. So these are the very, very vivid memories here of this person. So if someone says that you cannot create—or help create co-create—exotic memories of events that probably didn’t happen, just tell them about this one.
But they’re all like this. I mean, these incredibly vivid memories that were surfacing, and these people would be taken back to the moment of what happened after they were paralyzed. This is what they remember.

The question here is do abductees exhibit greater reactivity—physiologic reactivity—to abduction and stressful scripts? And these were stressful scripts, terrible events that these people had had, but they didn’t have PTSD.

Then to positive and neutral scripts, relative to the control subjects—in other words, do they respond to memories of alien encounters like they do to real stressful scripts? And the answer is yes.

Here are the statistics for the heart rate, the P values, the effect sizes, etcetera. Let me just show you the grafts; it’s a little bit easier. Here is the heart rate right here, and what you see are the neutral, positive, and stressful and abduction scripts.

Now the space alien abductees are these guys right here. So they’re hearing their own autobiographical memory scripts. As you can see, the alien abductees are showing high reactivity to the abduction script and also to these terrible events that have happened in their life in the past. They get a little uptake with positive, not much with neutral.

Now the control subjects—the people who denied having ever been abducted by aliens—they were yoked to these folks. That is to say, they heard the scripts of the abductees. So what happened is that they’d be in the lab, and they’d be hearing these stories from a stranger. These guys don’t react physiologically. They walk out of the lab and they say things like, hmm, that was weird.
But they don’t react physically. These guys are showing this intense reaction.

Skin conduction response; very similar. And EMG, you find more with the stress here. But both stress and abduction showing much more than the others.

Now what we did here, we wanted to say, well, how does the memories of the alien abduction actually compare to memories of real trauma patients—Vietnam vets with post-traumatic stress disorder? And what we did in this particular graph here is we took data from a very large study done by Terry [phonetic] King [phonetic], where Terry had measured the response to a neutral script in the Vietnam vets with PTSD, and to their combat script, and took the difference. And we did the same thing. And as you can see, the abductees are actually showing greater reactivity than the real trauma patients. There’s their heart rate, and there’s the real PTSD patients. We get the same thing for skin conductance, and we get the same thing for EMG.

What’s happening here—the conclusions—is that the psychophysiologic reactivity to trauma scripts is driven by emotional belief, whether true or not. So if you actually believe this has happened, and its an intense, emotional memory, you will show the physiologic signature of that belief—that emotional belief—regardless of whether it’s true or not.

Intense emotion during memory recovery does not confirm the veracity of the memory. Now a lot of you are probably thinking, well, of course not. How could that possibly do to the case? But people go to jail these days when juries are convinced. When they hear somebody recounting a memory and doing so with great intensity, they go, it must have happened. Look at the affect. Not necessarily.

Now I’m just going to finish up here with just a couple of things. We’ve got our recipe for an alien abductee. So we’ve figured out this particular false memory syndrome.

First of all, New Age beliefs. Right? So they’re into all types of cool things. Alien visitation is only one of many.

The familiarity with the cultural narrative of alien abduction. John Mack used to tell me, “But Rich, I’ve interviewed people in Los Angeles, and people in New York, and they all tell me that the aliens do the same thing to them when they get them on the ship.”

I said, “Well, John, look—ask any child in America what happens on December 24th. You’ve got this big heavyset guy with a red suit, white beard—comes down the chimney, gives you presents, and you get the same narrative about Santa Claus as you will the alien abduction. It’s part of our heritage. It’s everywhere.”

So for example, here is a—

This was in The Weekly World News here. This is one of the top journals in the learned world, supposedly. This alien—this space alien—backs Bush for president. It was reported exclusively in Weekly World News. That’s Governor Bush.

And then last summer, we had “Space aliens spotted hugging Kerry—does this make John a shoo-in”. Apparently not, but at any rate.

But there it is right there. Weekly World News. You heard it first.

An elevated fantasy proneness, absorption. This is clearly a part of it. I think that’s why they’re so much higher than the Vietnam vets with PTSD. They’re just average. These guys are high.

Sleep paralysis and hypnopompic hallucinations, quasi-hypnotic memory recovery sessions. Now I think the guy who may actually have got this nailed is this fellow right here, Max Weber. He was a German sociologist and polymath [phonetic], etcetera.

Max Weber wrote a famous essay called “Science as a Vocation” in which he said, “One of the melancholy side effects of modernity—about the advancement of science and technology—is that it disenchants the world.” Science disenchants the world, drives away the spirits, leaving us alone—bereft and alone—in a godless universe, or something like that.

Now when I ask my space alien abductees—I said, “If you could do it all over again, would you rather not have been abducted?” And they say, you know, when they first started taking me, it was terrifying, absolutely traumatizing—evidenced by the psychophysiology, by the way, that you saw—but now I realize that there are beings out there who care for us and care for the fate of the Earth. I’ve got a deeper spiritual appreciation for the universe. I’ve been involved in hybrid breeding program. I’m special.
I’m not making this up. No, this is seriously what they say. But it is deep and my spiritual awareness was so unbalanced. Even though this was traumatizing when it first happened, now I realize it was a good thing. And so yes, I’m glad I’m an abductee.

Notice that they’re very spiritual people. In this, the aliens are re-enchanting the universe for these folks. And when you ask these subjects—when you tell them about sleep paralysis—you know, they sort of cross their arms and say, “Professor McNally, you need to learn to think outside the box.”

“There’s more things out there, more things that are in heaven and earth, that are in your philosophy.” Right?

Or they say, “Oh, I know about sleep paralysis. And I have been abducted by aliens. They’re different.”
Yes, so, well, how are they different?

“Well, you got to have had both to tell the difference. I can’t tell you. You’ve got to experience—“ You know.

So they really hold to these beliefs. They really do. In fact, actually, my student Susan Clancy has just written a book called Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. It comes out this September. This is sort of part psychology; part cultural history; and part her autobiographical adventures testing alien abductees at Harvard University, so it’s quite an interesting book.

But she sort of pulls the whole cultural history together. These guys are very different from the sexual abuse survivors. None of them wish they were sexually abused. They’re not spiritual.

Now finally, I suppose in the spirit of scientific fairness, I need to present some evidence that was provided to me by Dr. Jordan Peterson, one of my former colleagues at Harvard who’s now teaching at the University of Toronto. In fact, he sent this piece of evidence to me and all the other faculty at Harvard, proving that there is something to the alien abduction phenomenon—especially hybrid breeding. Here’s the evidence right here.

He says, “There’s something to this here.” But at any rate, on that note, thank you.
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Postby caleban » Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:30 am

Aye...I wonder what prevents this from happening?


Enter tounge-in-cheek mode. I wonder what prevents you from recognizing
that it does happen ? I suspect you automatically filter recognition of it.
Here is a hint for you. From Dr. McNally's excellent lecture provided
by ryguy just above.

We wanted to test this false memory propensity issue....snip
So we put an ad in the newspaper: “Have you been abducted by aliens?”


My stomach still hurts from that one. That was a great laugh, but was not
a joke. Sometimes the best humor is truthful irony. But I am still working
on that lecture. I find that dividing up a long read into time-spaced segments
allows for better comprehension. There is a lot of meat in there.

Meanwhile, and in this playful mode, there is an ironic, humorous
hypothesis test as a first suggestion.
TEST: interview the folks in this business (below link) and see how
many have been abducted. If the percentage is significant, then ryguy
is definately on to something.

High Voltage Cable Inspectors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tzga6qAaBA
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Postby ryguy » Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:07 am

caleban wrote:
We wanted to test this false memory propensity issue....snip
So we put an ad in the newspaper: “Have you been abducted by aliens?”


My stomach still hurts from that one. That was a great laugh, but was not
a joke. Sometimes the best humor is truthful irony. But I am still working
on that lecture. I find that dividing up a long read into time-spaced segments
allows for better comprehension. There is a lot of meat in there.


I know...the ad was funny... you'll see later why he admits it was a silly move. Wait till you read the part about the practical joke at the car dealership.

Meanwhile, and in this playful mode, there is an ironic, humorous
hypothesis test as a first suggestion.
TEST: interview the folks in this business (below link) and see how
many have been abducted. If the percentage is significant, then ryguy
is definately on to something.

High Voltage Cable Inspectors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tzga6qAaBA



Unless you only query the guys who've been doing it for 20 years - or the ones who live on top of the pylons...you sort of missed the point...

-Ry
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Postby caleban » Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:40 am

Still looking at the last third of the lecture. Lot of good quotes in there.

you sort of missed the point...


Would not be the first time, either. (smile)

Unless you only query the guys who've been doing it for 20 years - or the ones
who live on top of the pylons...


Why constrain your sample to results that can only bias against your hypothesis ?

Oh, sorry, I forgot already that I missed the point. ( <==That is an example of sarcasm !)

So, for clarity, can you state your hypothesis ? The shorter, cleaner the statement,
the more likely we can be looking at the same point. Otherwise we are looking into
a new box of colored pencils, and each of us will be focusing on the one that most catches
our eye. Its a big box, way more than a hundred sharp points (topics) in there.
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Postby ryguy » Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:43 am

caleban wrote:So, for clarity, can you state your hypothesis ? The shorter, cleaner the statement, the more likely we can be looking at the same point. Otherwise we are looking into a new box of colored pencils, and each of us will be focusing on the one that most catches our eye. Its a big box, way more than a hundred sharp points (topics) in there.


Sure...and I know that the point of even having a hypothesis is to go through the painful process of working to disprove it. So I will grow some thick skin - if you can attempt to tone down the sarcasm a bit.

You're asking me, Ryan, to use short sentences? lol...you don't know me very well...haha...I'll do my best.

The hypothesis is this:

"Long-term exposure to elevated levels of EMF, either constant daily exposure from an excessively high EMF producing household electrical devices (or devices placed close to the body daily such as clock radios, electric blankets, and televisions), or daily exposure to ELF (extremely low frequency) such as those produced by transmission lines - depresses the pineal gland melatonin production in the body of those undergoing constant exposure. FYI, this elevated level of EMF could also come naturally from variations within the Earth's geomagnetism or interactions with solar radiation. Source of high EMF is not critical, only that the levels at that geographic location are consistently higher than the natural baseline.

I believe the melatonin deficit created by long-term exposure has various effects on people. But for the this hypothesis - the effect I am interested in is the disruption this causes to the body's circadian rhythm, and create repeated sleep paralysis episodes - often with accompanying lucid dreams that are mistaken for alien visitations, demonic/angelic visitations, abductions, ghosts, etc..."


Wow...ok so it wasn't very short.

Lemme try one more time.

Long-term exposure to elevated levels of EMF at a certain geographical location can result in a melatonin deficiency that disrupts the human body's circadian rhythm - in effect resulting in perceived abduction and/or contact experiences.


What people dream about during this state are common archetypes shared among the population (also culturally influenced, of course). However this part of the hypothesis (why so many have common "dreams") is an area that I've been working on getting in touch with someone who has a great deal of experience with, and we hope to interview him on this topic shortly.

I would also like to propose a secondary hypothesis that short term effects of EMF spikes or temporary elevated levels of EMF at a certain location causes sensations that people may believe are paranormal in origin. Effects such as a sense of presence, a sense of touch, anxiety, unease, fear and nausea.

There is a reason why most "ghosthunters" use EMF meters to "sense" ghosts. At a point people noticed that when "ghosts" are seen or experienced, EMF meters respond. While most paranormal investigators assume that the EMF spike is in response to a paranormal presence - I propose that the perception of a presence (or seeing glowing orbs fly across the room, etc..) is caused by the EMF spike in the first place.

Cheers,
-Ry
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Postby caleban » Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:33 am

Long-term exposure to elevated levels of EMF at a certain geographical location can result in a melatonin deficiency that disrupts the human body's circadian rhythm - in effect resulting in perceived abduction and/or contact experiences.


If you got from the first statement to the second one in only one effort, that is impressive ! Thats a lot of work. Now that its getting easy, I get two tries as well.

1st try: Exposure to EMF due to non-ambient geographic sources can introduce anomalous sensory perceptions in the brain.
(If that sounds a little odd, I have attempted to join your secondary hypothesis with the first, because it sounds to me like a subset of the primary.)

Now lets talk about what we are trying to do. To communicate an "Ah...Ha!" moment so that the basic idea is clear to as many folks as possible is hard work, but you want them on the same page with you. Now, this part is going to sound counter-intuitive, but I believe it to work well. Look at your two tries, and my first one above. Is your understanding of your hypothesis still there ?

If not, more hard work. If so, what is changing ? Besides clarity, we are removing constraints from the hypothesis. The more verbose, the more constrained the point is. If you place enough constraints on it, hypothesis testing will be so limited that you can end up with simple tests that will likely fail the hypothesis even though the concept might be correct outside of the narrow box you have sealed it in. Sorta like trying to test the "exception to every rule" as opposed to testing the rule itself.

(OK, we are entering an area where we are trying to overlap concepts. No impressive references needed. I am trying to communicate my understanding to you, and visa-versa. We do not have to be right, but we do need to find the same colored pencil. This part is fun. If we sound wrong, then by all means, jump right in and us help find the pencil. What works for me may not work for you. Or anyone else out there.)

Look at your first two attempts with an eye towards constraints. The very first constraint is contained in both your attempts. "Long term exposure". What about short term exposure? If there is a relationship, then it will exist (maybe very small) throughout the exposure time line, would it not ? Deleting "long term" also brings in your secondary hypothesis as a subset. To save a lot of redundancy, now look at my first attempt. What constraints are left ?

Lets take out as many as we can.

2nd try. EMF is related to anomalous perception.
Is your hypothesis still there?
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Postby ryguy » Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:49 am

caleban wrote:1st try: Exposure to EMF due to non-ambient geographic sources can introduce anomalous sensory perceptions in the brain.
(If that sounds a little odd, I have attempted to join your secondary hypothesis with the first, because it sounds to me like a subset of the primary.)


Yes! Your explanation above, btw, was extremely helpful. Your joining together of the two hypothesis is perfect, and your statement above is absolutely concise - yes you've captured it I think. I'm a little bit concerned about leaving out the "long-term" though...it's too easy to point to cases of short term exposure where no anomalies are seen, and then throw out the baby with the bathwater. Although your point above is true - maybe there are more subtle effects even with short-term exposure. So - yes, your 1st try above I think is perfect. Especially because I'm not as concerned with the source of the EMF, so long as the levels are substantially higher than ambient. Again - that's part of the simple statement you've restated for me above. Excellent...

2nd try. EMF is related to anomalous perception.
Is your hypothesis still there?


I'm afraid not so much. This one feels far too general and a little too vague. How is it related? Could be a million ways...and which anomalous perception...there are hundreds, of not more. I think a hypothesis this general would take 4 or 5 lifetimes to test - I think at least a few constraints are needed. Again - I really like your first attempt...

-Ry
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