Wednesday, July 31, 2013

John G. Fuller Warns Betty Hill Not to "Jump to Conclusions"

Betty Hill (1919–2004), who with her husband Barney was allegedly "abducted' by a UFO back in 1961, is an extremely well-known figure in UFO circles. We know her from the book The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, by countless media articles and appearances, and from her appearances at UFO conferences. The conventional wisdom is: she was a serious and credible person who reported an incredible experience, but in later years became somewhat fantasy-prone because of something akin to a post-abduction syndrome, worsened by ther husband's sudden death. A more realistic appraisal would be: Mrs. Hill was a fantasy-prone person, who nonetheless succeeded in convincing a lot of people she was credible before the weight of evidence made it obvious that she wasn't.

A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, after her death Mrs. Hill's papers were donated to her alma mater, and now are available to researchers at the Milne Special Collections, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH. Skeptic Kitty Mervine has been studying these papers, and has made some extremely interesting findings.
We did see some slides of a group of Indians in Antarctic who resembled these humanoids very much- both of us were very shocked by this. They had fatty layers of tissues around their features to protect them from the extreme cold of their environment – a warm day is 40 below and they go swimming.
From this Betty concluded that the aliens must have originated on a very cold planet. Betty didn't explain how the natives find liquid water when it's 40 below.

Kitty also found Betty's margin notes concerning her regular visits to a supposed "UFO landing spot" near Exeter, NH, which she visited two or three times a week for at least six years, and saw six or eight UFOs each night. This is the spot where, according to the UFO proponent John Oswald, on the evening he went there with her, Mrs. Hill couldn't "distinguish between a landed UFO and a streetlight." In her notes, Betty scribbled details and descriptions of her UFOs in the margins. Concerning one friend who came to see this miraculous event, Betty wrote,
So now when he comes to visit, he brings his mother and we have great times together. When they were here in October, we went out to my area and counted 12 UFOs in thirty minutes.  His mother was amazed!
Betty Hill with "Junior" and UFO promoter 
Timothy Green Beckley, who took pictures at the "UFO landing spot."

However, one visitor to the "UFO landing spot" was not so easily impressed: John G. Fuller, the  author of the book The Interrupted Journey that made the Hills famous, who regularly wrote for major magazines such as the Saturday Review and Look. (Remember when people used to read magazines for news and current events?) Fuller was a firm believer in UFOs, ghosts, and other paranormal claims, but he could not stomach the UFO claims being made by Betty Hill after her supposed "abduction."

Fuller visited the UFO landing site with Betty. She was attempting to persuade Fuller, and the editors of Look magazine, to publish an article about the UFOs that she was seeing there. But Fuller, the author of numerous loopy books about ghosts and psychic surgery, wasn't buying it at all. In a letter to Betty dated January 8, 1974, Fuller wrote,
during the evening we went out with you, there was nothing that appeared that could not be identified as planes on a normal traffic pattern for either the Boston airport, the Pease Air Force Base, or the traffic route for overseas passenger jets. Yet you had a tendency to feel that some of these were misinterpret aviation traffic as the [unidentified] objects does not help your case.
Regardless of the intensity of your belief, it must still be backed up by cautious and competent witnesses or it works against you very seriously...
Because your first encounter was so well documented, it served as very good evidence of the existence of UFOs. Unless you can back up any current happenings with equal caution, you can seriously harm your position, and that of those who found your original evidence so interesting because of your reserve and caution. Hate to speak as a Dutch uncle like this, Betty, but it is very important to do so, if only for protecting your own reputation.
very best regards,   John
In another note (undated), Fuller admonishes Betty to, "never extrapolate, always re-check and look for natural explanation first." That is so un-Betty! "It's so easy to jump to conclusions, and when you do, you can weaken your position drastically.

In other words, Fuller warned Betty: 'don't be so crazy. You are damaging your own credibility, and mine, too.'


  1. I have nothing but admiration for Betty, an enthusiastic UFO fan, and she is remembered fondly by those that knew her. However, she would see a UFO (and her definition is quite different than mine), and greet it almost as an old friend in her journals. She certainly lead a colorful and interesting life, mostly due to her own imagination. But her kindness and volunteer work are actual fact, unlike the many UFO's she saw over the years.

  2. Hello Robert!
    I have recently been reading about the Matthew and Robert Reed abduction. Since there is no skeptical inquiry I think you should try to investigate it. Hopefully we can find out the truth to this.

  3. A Mother Goose rhyme updated...

    The Woman Of Exeter

    There dwelt an old woman at Exeter;
    When UFOs came it really amazed her,
    So she hoped they could meet,
    But it was only a light from the street,
    This fantasy-prone old woman of Exeter.

    1. TS, this is not one of your better ditties. However, your comments on the "Citizens Hearings" was brilliant satire.

  4. Has anyone any idea of the royalties Fuller made from that book, which must have gone through several reprints? Likewise, did Betty Hill get much in the way of royalties? Also, what about the movie shown on TV, etc?

    Just curious.

    Also, what was the official cause of death for Barney Hill?

    1. Chris, Phil Klass once went to visit Dr. Simon and stayed in his house for a weekend. Afterward Klass said that the royalties for Interrupted Journey were split equally 3 ways, Fuller/Simon/Hills. I believe there is more about this in Betty's papers at UNH, but it hasn't been analyzed yet.

      Barney Hill died of a stroke, rather suddenly. He was taken to the hospital, but died a few hours later.

    2. To be specific, Klass says in UFO Abductions, (p 8) that Fuller and Simon got 30% each while the Hills got 40% (this included book, serial and movie rights).

      As for Betty's papers, it would be nice if some of them could be digitised or bound for sale (cheaper than me flying to UNH and staying in a hotel for a few days).

      As is it is, we have a letter on the subject published by Marden in Captured! Dated December 27, 1965, Betty offers Simon 1/3 of the Hills' 2/3 share, which works out to about 22% for Simon. Weirdly, Marden never states if this was accepted, she never states the final terms. Until someone publishes the contract, we'll have to go with Klass.

  5. Mr. Sheaffer, do you know of any sceptical accounts of the "Japan Air Lines flight 1628 incident"? Usually this one is cited as one of the "top-cases". I couldn't find anything about it on this blog.

    1. 299; I'm not Mr Sheaffer, but I've mentioned the JAL 1628 "UFO" fairy tale and repeater Terauchi's fit of flying-saucer hysteria several times on this blog and more fully elsewhere.

      As another "best case" in "UFO" mythology, it bears many real-world similarities to the Hills' flying-saucer fantasy. And repeater Terauchi's sleep-deprived confabulation is as thoroughly debunkable as fantasy-prone Betty's cinematic "abduction" nightmare.

      Maybe Robert will report on thoroughly predisposed Terauchi's laughable "mothership" fantasy soon.

      The "best 'UFO' cases" are so debunkable because they are composed of complete and utter bunk!

  6. I'd like to see if an investigative reporter can get permission to obtain the medical reports of the Hills. Granted, the reporter would have to get permission from the physician's office (if it's still around--the Hill's doctor is dead) and the Hills assigns or heirs. Probably impossible, but may be worth a try.

    1. > the medical reports of the Hills

      Marden writes: "Mysteriously, all of Betty’s records pertaining to her UFO encounter disappeared from her medical file."

      While reading Interrupted Journey and Marden's Captured! I hand-made an index. One of the longest entries for both books is "missing evidence."

  7. > The conventional wisdom is: [Betty] was a serious and credible person who reported an incredible experience, but in later years became somewhat fantasy-prone because of something akin to a post-abduction syndrome

    That indeed was the official position of Kathleen Marden in Captured! However, Berthold Schwarz published three papers in 1977 that documents many of Betty's paranormal interests, including several pre-UFO experiences, such as interactions with an invisible ghost child.

    Berthold E. Schwarz, “Talks With Betty Hill: 1 – Aftermath of Encounter,” Flying Saucer Review, V23, N2, 1977 (published in August)
    Berthold E. Schwarz, “Talks With Betty Hill: 2 – The Things That Happen Around Her,” Flying Saucer Review, V23, N3, 1977 (published in October)
    Berthold E. Schwarz, “Talks With Betty Hill: 3 – Experiments and Conclusions,” Flying Saucer Review, V23, N2, 1977 (published January 1978)

    Jacques Vallée relates a 1967 incident where Betty tries to psychically contact the aliens, asking them to make a public display on a certain date. Vallée writes, "It was like a bad movie." (Vallée, Forbidden Science, pp 272-78.) Also worth checking out in this account are loopy statements by Betty's sister, Janet Miller (Barney thought they were loopy).

    1. I should add that Marden writes in Captured, "After Barney’s death, {Betty] turned away from careful, objective evaluation, and with subjective enthusiasm began to identify any lights in the sky as UFOs" (p 275). While that statement is true within its narrow scope -- UFO reports -- Marden ignores everything Schwarz and Vallée wrote about Betty's credulous claims. (She cites Schwarz about missing earrings but nothing else; she gives a highly sanitised version of Vallée's report.)

      Clearly, the record shows Betty held fantastic beliefs before Barney's death.

    2. Terry, I've previously read the items to which you refer (Schwartz and Vallee), and I encourage others to do the same. It shows Betty's loopy side quite clearly.

      In fact, I heard Berthold Schwartz give a talk about his interviews with Betty Hill at a NICAP UFO Conference in DC in 1974. I attended with Philip J. Klass, and met Donald Keyhoe there. Those were the days!

      Also don't forget that Betty's far-out sister Janet Miller was Kathleen Marden's mother.

    3. correction: the third Schwarz paper should read issue N4, not N2. Sorry about that.

    4. > Betty's far-out sister Janet Miller was Kathleen Marden's mother.

      If Marden ever interviewed her mother about the case, she doesn't seem to have used it in her book. That's curious to me.

      The more I read about the case, the more important I think Janet Miller is. She is featured in one part of Interrupted Journey but I don't believe anyone else formally interviewed her, though she seems to have lived to a ripe old age. (I have yet to find any record of an interview in the UFO literature). No one asked her what she knew and when she knew it. This is important because evidence such as the spots on the trunk, an episode which features Janet, don't show up in any of the early reports.

  8. > In a letter to Betty dated January 8, 1974, Fuller wrote:

    Mr. Sheaffer, In Captured! by Marden, this letter is dated 1979 (p. 271). Do you have an independent source for this letter?

  9. Terry, I was looking at a photocopy made of the letter in the archives of UNH. (I had forgotten that it was in the Marden book!). The copy was not so completely clear, and perhaps it really said "1979" when I read "1974"?

    1. > perhaps it really said "1979" when I read "1974"?

      Hard to say either way. Proofreading is not a strength of UFO books.

      Maybe I need to do that Kickstarter thing to fund a trip to the Hill archives!


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