Friday, May 6, 2016

Invasion of the Pod People - My review of David Jacobs' new book "Walking Among Us"

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.
David Jacobs
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 hereOn Jacobs’ website , 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."


  1. He is the very personification of the word, "nincompoop".

  2. HI!,I Think The Whole Alien-Hybrid Thing IS A Rehash of The Fairy Lore,Told With Space Ships And Alien Hybrids Instead of The Little Old Fairy Folk of Old!..

    1. Changelings etc.? Good spot.

      Either Jacobs is some sort of con man; or he's suffering a huge paranoid delusion that needs treating professionally. If it's the latter, then he has my sympathy.

    2. Rupelstiltskin does sound kind of Pleadian doesn't it?

  3. The whole time this person was on C2C, (As long as I could stand listening to him!) I was screaming to the radio; "Where do they get their money? What happens when they get stopped by the police?" etc...Glad someone has asked the same questions. This person is painful to hear, and George N did not help....

  4. Not so sure if he is leading the witness as much as they are rationalizing the BS that they are concocting in their heads. Humans create patterns into things that make sense. We look at rocks on Mars that become squirrels, or dinosaur bones. It doesn't make it really true, but creates a false belief that Mars is littered with other life. Same thing here. His witnesses start to accept their concoction as valid and build from there. He buys it as truth and fails to investigate this false concocted story. Very sad!

  5. Robert,

    Thanks for another good read. From a psychiatric standpoint, I always had a fascination with the alien abduction phenomena and the behind the door "machinations" needed for the continual survival for the belief.

    Recently I did a personal meta search of various psychiatric and psychology peer reviewed journals. I was basically seeing if I could tie in Capgras Delusion as one of the culprits for the abduction phenomena. This uncommon delusion (I've had three patient's diagnosed in the past treated at my facility) appeared to be a good fit with the "body snatcher" theme as the sufferer viewed family and friends as impostors who had been replaced by others. The term "others" tended to be a difficult task to uncover as most sufferers in their current state of paranoia refused to elaborate further.

    Unfortunately, I found nothing in the peer review journals to back up my rudimentary hypothesis. Yet, I still believe that Capgras may be a viable subset that may describe some facet of the "alien" hybrid meme.

    I've only a masters degree, yet I'm totally surprised that PhDs such as Jacobs would not go the needed extra mile to unravel a "mystery."

    1. Wasn't Jacob's PhD thesis his history of the UFO phenomenon, or movement? It was later published as a popular book. Hardly the kind of PhD who'd want to conduct a thorough investigation, I'd think.

  6. First, congratulations on being able to wade your way through this, er, eccentric volume.

    Your point about money, drivers' licences has been raised by Luis Gonzales, and probably others, privately. I say this because it underlines how blazingly obvious the question is, although alines being capable of anything could surely produce false credentials and set up an offshore cash stream etc etc—you just have to rationalize it. But that Jacobs has made no attempt whatever to ponder these problems is a trifle revealing, what?

    By way of comfort, I don't see anyone remotely significant among ufologists, ahem "serious researchers", taking any notice of this busted flush.

    1. "By way of comfort, I don't see anyone remotely significant among ufologists, ahem "serious researchers", taking any notice of this busted flush."

      While I agree, my definition of "remotely significant" differs significantly from ufology in general. John Ventre and Pennsylvania MUFON awarded Jacobs a lifetime achievement honor. Others in the field have tied to defend his method of implanting hypnotic suggestions of multiple personality during his sessions of Emma Woods by arguing that she somehow consented to it. He is a regular at UFO conferences, podcasts, radio shows, and events. Jack Brewer (of the UFO Trail and The Grays Have Been Framed) has done a lot of good work on Jacobs, but I am not sure how many "serious researchers" have taken him on and I am not certain if anyone has refused to share the stage with him.

      The problem, though, is not simply with Jacobs. With the exception of BUFORA, "serious reseachers" continue to rely on hypnotic regression to uncover abduction scenarios - a method that is hardly a reliable means of uncovering actual experience. I might as well believe that people are being ritually abused by satanic cults (Michelle Remembers) as abducted by aliens or hubrids.

      I cannot foresee a time when "serious reseachers" within ufology will consult with people like Richard McNally, Susan Clancy (Abducted), or Elizabeth Loftus to understand abduction reports and memory. And the MUFON claims of scientific study are belied by the methods they use - when Dr. McNally is invited to a conference I might be more impressed.

      So we are left with Jacobs, Lamb, and Marden to convince us of the abduction phenomenon. Sometimes I think that Jacobs is there just so people can present Marden as bringing a more "nuanced approach" to the field. But I'm still waiting for the DNA results.

    2. Jacobs was an invited speaker at this year's International UFO Congress in Arizona. His talk was well-received, as was his participation in panels. Offstage, he was constantly surrounded by and talking with admirers. I'd say that there are still a lot of people who take jacobs quite seriously.

    3. Points taken, gents.

      Which makes things altogether a bit sadder than I had hoped. So it goes.

  7. David Jacobs, meet Paul Bennewitz.

  8. In 1975 Jacobs published "THE UFO CONTROVERSY IN AMERICA", which I thought was quite a scholarly, fairly neutral UFO book. I read this never realising that it had been, essentially, his PhD thesis from the Univ of Wisconsin. I forget where I first read this news, but found it difficult to believe at first. (Is it in fact true?).

    So we have a UFO writer gaining a PhD on the strength of a history of ufology in the USA! It must have been several years after this that Jacobs began his 'downward spiral' into the depths of abductionism and abductees. It is a very sad decline and makes Jacobs an almost unique figure in ufology. It is akin to, but quite different from, the 'conspiracy syndrome' affecting so many ufologists, in that there seems no cure in prospect for sufferers. Once you are infected, that's it.

    I still recall him predicting, in 1994 in London, that the truth about alien abductions, would be made officially known around the turn of the century.

    1. Chris, yes, that is the same Jacobs. On my "historical" page on, I have a latter that Klass wrote to Jacobs in 1976, in which he questions Jacobs' objectivity in his "UFO Controversy" book.

  9. "· “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"

    Oddly enough evolution on vastly different alien worlds somehow produced bad sci-fi versions of Terran life. I guess there's no reason to look for alien life as its just like terrestrial life.

  10. If there were all these aliens here, they would have to have a huge infrastructure--either on the land, or in the oceans, or in the sky. The equipment would have to be repaired and resupplied, the aliens must be fed and educated, etc. I know of no hard evidence for any of this. I hold to the belief that the serious sightings of UFO's are secret military aerospace craft.


Keep your comments relevant, and keep them civil! That means no personal attacks will be allowed, by anyone, on anyone. Commenters are welcome to disagree with me, or with other comments, but state your arguments using logic, and with a civil tone. Comments in violation of these rules will be deleted, and offenders banned.

Comments should be in English, although quotes from foreign-language sources are fine as long as they're relevant, and you explain them. Anonymous postings are not permitted. If you don't want to use your real name, then make up a name for yourself, and use it consistently.