"We've lost all 

that ability to 

know a world 

beyond the 

physical ... I am 

a bridge between 

these two worlds," 

Mack has said.


John Mack and ET vs. Harvard Medical School
 By Bryce Buchanan 
You may recall reading about Dr. John Mack, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a leading proponent of alien abduction theories.  He has written Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens and traveled the talk show circuit.  He also collaborated with two other UFO promoters to produce a 64-page booklet, mailed to nearly 100,000 psychotherapists, which claimed to provide evidence that as many as 3.7 million Americans may have been abducted by space creatures.

     Mack has told stories about his patient Ed, who was seduced by an alien woman with long hair and big eyes who needed his sperm to "make special babies." Then there is Peter, who settled into a long-term relationship with an "alien wife" from a "parallel universe."  Another of Mack's patients became alien-impregnated from a close encounter of the sexual kind.  There are many other stories, from people as young as three years old, and Mack not only appears to believe them all, but is a visible cheerleader for the storytellers.

     You may have assumed, as I did, that Mack's questionable crusade was further proof that the intellectual standards at universities are declining, since Mack's extreme credulity did not appear to offend or embarrass Harvard.

     We were wrong.  A year ago, the Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Daniel Tosteson, formed a special faculty committee to investigate Mack.  In more than 30 closed-door meetings over the last 12 months, the committee has attempted to determine if Mack's research methods meet Harvard's standards and whether Mack has exploited his abduction patients or treated them in any way harmful to their mental health.

     The report is said to be sharply critical of Mack's research methods.  Mack and the two attorneys defending him are treating the inquiry as a serious abuse of his academic freedom.  "The whole point of tenure," said attorney Roderick Macleish "is to allow scholars to pursue unorthodox ideas."

     Mack has compared himself to Galileo being persecuted for his visionary approach, but according to one faculty member who has seen the committee's draft report, Mack's freedom to study any area of interest to him is strongly defended: It is his methods that are not acceptable.  Galileo, after all, was using a carefully reasoned scientific method, in opposition to the mystical approaches to knowledge which prevailed in the Dark Ages.

     It was this mystical epistemology that kept the Dark Ages dark, and it was the ascendancy of reason that brought forth the light.  That Mack is an advocate of mystical ways of knowing, and is acting contrary to science, is clear from his public statements.  He speaks of "the world of other dimensions, of other realities, that can cross over into our world"; only "epistemological totalitarians" require objective physical proof for this; and, if you skeptics would only "expand your consciousness" (drop the need for evidence), you could accept "consciousness, our total being, as a way of knowing."

     "We've lost all that ability to know a world beyond the physical ... I am a bridge between these two worlds," Mack has said.

     This "way of knowing," without evidence, is not a new and enlightened approach, as Mack suggests.  It is the Dark Ages approach in new clothes.  The Dean of Harvard Medical School is right to be concerned.  An open attack on reason from someone within the scientific community should not be ignored.

     It is worth noting that there is a Messianic element to Mack's abduction stories, similar to religious and paranormal fads.  In channeling, the disembodied spirits generally try to give mankind a message about peace, love or the environment, with suggestions (usually stale platitudes) about how to live or how to avoid a coming catastrophe.  It's an urgent message "from beyond" to the channeler for mankind.

     My initial impression was that aliens had traveled across the universe primarily to have sex with Mack's patients, because most of the stories are like bizarre sexual dreams.  But when Mack discussed his work on the "New Age" radio program, New Dimensions, he focused on the important messages these aliens bring to Earth: peace and approaching environmental disaster.  They have something to say to us that we need to listen to, Mack warned.  They are trying to help us ... if we will only listen to him ... to him, the chosen bridge between two worlds.

     You could almost hear him say, 'And lo, verily, the skeptics minds were hardened against the new messiah bearing the Truth for our new age; the Truth delivered by caring (and sex-crazed) aliens.  And, verily, the skeptics did not embrace the great things they had heard, but formed a committee to cast stones upon him.'

     I say in response, "Forgive them.  They know what they are doing."

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© 2000 Oregonians for Rationality