My review of UFO abductionist David Jacobs' new book Walking Among Us was first published in The Skeptical Inquirer, January/February, 2016.
Invasion of the Pod People
Book Review: Walking Among Us –
The Alien Plan to Control Humanity
By David M. Jacobs. (San Francisco: Disinformation Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2015. 280 pp, $21.95).
The plot of the 1956 cult science fiction film Invasion of the Body Snatchers is summarized on the Internet Movie Database: “A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.” This, in a nutshell, is what Jacobs alleges to be happening in Walking Among Us, except that the aliens do not steal our whole bodies, just our DNA (which they use to grow their own version of our bodies). And they produce emotionless alien hybrids, who now walk among us. We read on the back page of the book:
A silent and insidious invasion has begun. Alien hybrids have moved into your neighborhood and into your workplace. They have been trained by human abductees to “pass,” to blend in to society, to appear as normal as your next door neighbor.
Dr. David M. Jacobs, PhD, is a retired professor of history at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has been studying the UFO phenomenon since the 1960s, and has been hypnotizing supposed UFO abductees since 1986, a skill he learned from his fellow abductionist, the late Budd Hopkins. In the early 1990s, abduction mania was riding high, led by its Troika of Dr. John Mack, a respected Harvard psychiatrist; Budd Hopkins, artist and amateur hypnotist; and Jacobs. It resonated well with other concurrent manias, such as “recovered memories” of alleged satanic cult molestations, large-scale daycare molestations, etc. In 1992, CBS-TV ran a prime-time miniseries based on the claims in Hopkins’s book Intruders, fueling widespread fears of sinister alien abductions. The Troika was so confident about the “scientific” status of their findings that in 1992 they arranged an Abduction Study Conference at MIT, hosted by physicist David Pritchard, in which I participated representing CSICOP. However, they went to extraordinary lengths using "non-disclosure forms" to control how the conference was reported. While the participants were heavily slanted toward the pro-abduction view, there was a significant presence of skeptical professionals, and instead of solidifying the abductionists’ claims, the conference highlighted their glaring weaknesses.
Jacobs’ first abduction book was Secret Life (1992), which attempts to categorize what goes on during a typical UFO abduction: physical events, reproductive events, and neurological events – “manipulating emotions, thoughts and images… I found that aliens could cause women to have orgasms during staring procedures.” His second abduction book The Threat (1998) focused on supposed alien “hybrids and their roles in the abduction phenomenon,” especially “human-looking hybrids who involve themselves with abductees for years.”
In his new book, Jacobs explains in detail about the different kinds of aliens:
· “Insectalin” leaders, who are over 6 feet tall and look like a praying mantis.
· “Grays,” large and small, who “only communicate telepathically.”
· “Reptilian hybrids,” with “snake-like” heads and mottled skin
· “Humanoid hybrids” (early, middle, and late stage), leading ultimately to
· “Hubrids,” who are “human in every way except in specific neural functions,” capable of both “telepathic and verbal communication.”
It is these “hubrids” that are supposedly infiltrating human society today.
Much of Walking Among Us consists of tedious recounting of supposed abduction experiences elicited during hypnosis sessions. The aliens are presented as robotic, humorless, and bewildered by everyday devices such as telephones, as well as by human social conventions.
Ever the fatalist, Jacobs laments that
if enough intelligent, knowledgeable people put their minds to the problem, there may be a remote possibility that they can stop the aliens, or at least slow them down. But something of that nature will not be realized as long as academics, scientists, and especially neuroscientists… not only disregard the abduction phenomenon, but think it to be a direct indication of mendacity or mental instability.
Yet what repeatedly struck me in reading this was Jacobs’ utter lack of curiosity about tracking down, and exposing, the alien presence and activities that he says is going on all around us. For example, one abductee was reportedly met outside her house and “driven by two late-twenties advance hybrids in their car,” to their apartment. It was “a different apartment from the one she had entered before.” So, alien hubrids drive cars. Do they have drivers licenses? They must, for they could not risk the scrutiny from law enforcement were they to drive without one. (Although I suppose Jacobs could claim that the hubrids would use their alien mind powers to make the traffic officer not pull them over.) How do aliens obtain documents to get their drivers licenses? How do they pay for them? Who pays for the cars driven by aliens? Who pays for their apartments? How do they pay when they go into a bar? How do saucer aliens obtain money – do they rob banks, or mine gold in asteroids? After a hubrid stops by for a visit, why not try to swab some DNA from the drinking glass he used? Given a few leads, any decent private investigator ought to be able to track down these infiltrators quickly enough – and expose the alien agenda! Yet Jacobs has absolutely no interest in such investigations. It’s almost as if he knows this is all a paranoid fantasy, and doesn’t want to risk confronting that fact by examining his own claims too closely.
Mack was struck by a vehicle and killed in 2004. Hopkins died in 2011, after having been publicly humiliated by the shocking expose of his dishonest methods by his ex-wife and former collaborator, Carol Rainey. This leaves Jacobs as the last survivor of the once-mighty UFO Abduction Troika, but his star is now quite tarnished, too. His dealings with a supposed abductee known as “Emma Woods” have been harshly criticized by other UFO researchers. I can’t get into all of the details here, but it involves things like Emma’s undergarments, and Jacob’s purchase recommendations at a kinky sex shop. Her website is here. On Jacobs’ website http://www.ufoabduction.com/ , he has a response to what he calls the "defamation campaign" against him. Referring to "Emma" as "Alice," Jacobs says that she appears to suffer from "Borderline Personality Disorder," and that she has been experiencing an "emotional breakdown."
In the final chapter, Jacobs acknowledges, “Most abduction evidence is the result of human memory, retrieved through hypnosis, with all its problems, administered by amateurs like myself.” Having made this admission, the next sentence ought to say something like, “So don’t take anything in this book too seriously.” Instead, like other abductionists who have paid lip service to the fallibility of hypnosis and memory, Jacobs conveniently ignores it throughout the entire book, and uses the dubious results of amateur hypnosis sessions to reach astonishing conclusions.
David Jacobs was a speaker at the 2016 International UFO Congress in Arizona in February. One of the comments I made on his speech was:
Jacobs says that when he begins hypnosis sessions with a new "abductee," the subject says all kinds of things that just are not true, especially in the first few sessions. Subjects often "confabulate." But after a few more hypnosis sessions, Jacobs' subjects apparently learn which details are 'correct' and which are not, and tell stories that are much more 'correct.' This conformity among accounts is then cited to "prove" that the abduction stories are real.
Outside UFOlogy, this is generally known as "leading the witness."