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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Captured! The Betty And Barney Hill UFO Experience -review

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: New Page Books,US (30 Sept. 2007)
ISBN-10: 1564149714
ISBN-13: 978-1564149718
Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.5 x 2 cm

The book blurb reads:

" Today, 46 years after the UFO abduction of Betty and Henry Hill, more and more people are convinced that UFO's are real and that governments are covering up their existence. If you have doubts or questions about the Hill case or alien experiences ingeneral, CAPTURED! will give you the answers you're searching for.

The 1961 abduction of the Hills stirred worldwide interest, primarily because of the book The Interrupted Journey, the subsequent media coverage and a 1975 TV movie, The UFO Incident. The case is mentioned in almost all UFO abduction books. It, also, became a target for debunkers, who still attack it today. But the complete story of what really happened that day, its effect on the participants and the findings of investigators has never been told…until now.

In CAPTURED!'ll get an insider's look at the alien abduction, previously unpublished information about the lives of the Hills before and after Barney's death in 1969, their status as celebrities, Betty's experiences as a UFO investigator and other activities before her death in 2004.

Kathleen Marden, Betty Hill's niece, shares details from her discussions with Betty and from the evidence of the UFO abduction. She, also, looks at the Hill's riveting hypnosis sessions about their time onboard the spacecraft. The transcripts of these sessions provide insight into the character of the aliens, including their curiosity, their democratic discussions and their desire to avoid inflicting pain.

In addition, co-author, physicist and ufologist Stanton T. Friedman, the original civilian investigator of the Roswell Incident, reviews and refutes the arguments of those who have attacked the Hill case, including the star map Betty Hill saw inside the craft and later recreated."

I became interested in what accounts of "Occupants" (as we called them)  of so-called flying saucers might be able to tell, since reports of lights-in-the-sky (LITS) told us literally nothing and those of seemingly constructed craft did not give us the "nuts and bolts" we needed.  For me, finding out more about Occupant physiology might offer explanations in one form or another.  Yes, our rockets took men into space and to the Moon and the rockets and capsules work like this or that -but how did the journey affect the men flying in them?  How did they get chosen or trained to sit on multiple tons of explosive fuel and ride those flying bombs into space?

I very early on dismissed Adamski and other Contactees.  The stories were so full of holes and how people were believing the crap they were dishing out dumbfounded me -but, yes, I was fascinated by how they accepted it -their thinking.

Then, in the early 1970s, I came across a book by John G. Fuller -The Interrupted Journey. People I spoke to kept referring to a "mixed race" couple which is pure nonsense.  There is only one race on Earth -humans and who gives a flying fig what skin colour was involved?  In fact, I had to take this into account later to understand the reasoning of some critics and Ufologists (pro or con) even though it was still irrelevant.

I was left in two minds. I had heard of "space-nappings" before such as Antonio Villas Boas, but this was the first that seemed to have any effort made to substantiate what happened, even if I was unsure how hypnosis was going to help.

When I finished the book I was stumped.  What did other Ufologists think?  Well, two that I recall responded with "Well, it was a white woman married to a black man -no idea what they might be up to!" Two less Ufologists to talk to, I thought.  Others told me that believing this junk would mean no one taking me seriously -"at least Adamski had the foot-prints in the desert and photographs!" and they were being seriously.  In fact, no one I talked to really wanted to commit themselves on the case -Norman Oliver, then of BUFORA, was one of the very rare ones who told me he believed the Hills.

But over the years there was "this" allegation and "that" explanation.  I heard that Betty Hill thought she could telepathically communicate with aliens and would spend hours alone claiming to do so. There were the claims that Betty was a huge sci fi fan.  Barney was the very impressionable husband who was brow-beaten by Betty into believing things. Betty claimed to have been abducted several times.  It went on and on and yet, when you listened to the recordings of the hypnosis sessions that have been used you realise something must have happened.

Then the explanation.  Betty and Barney being a "mixed race" couple were caught at a makshift roadblock by racist youths and attacked.  it was so horrifying that the torch-light used to flag them down before the attack became a flying saucer and the attackers aliens. At least two magazines and then a lot of Ufologists accepted the idea.  I mean, kidnappers from space?  We all know how racist, violent and out-of-control youths are, right?

Utter pig-swill.

Then I recall Dr Carl Sagan, not one of my favourite people as I've explained before, dealt very briefly with the Hill's and the Fish "star map".  He was a big science media star and in a few minutes destroyed the case and star-map...with complete and utter inaccuracies.

While building up the AE - CE IIIK data base and preparing work for a previously unpublished AOP Bureau report on these cases in the UK, I have been reading a lot of books. Karla Turner, Jacobs and others.  So when I saw this book I thought "Why not?"  I mean, Stanton T. Friedman has a solid reputation and Kathleen Marden was Betty Hill's niece and has all her notes and correspondence. To be truthful I was not expecting to find out a great deal -perhaps a little one-sided in the Hills' favour.

In fact, this book is far better than The Interrupted Journey and includes data never revealed in that book.  Those 21 growths on Barney's groin that could not be identified but were medically removed -if only they had been preserved!  We learn that there was a USAF radar-visual incident involving a UFO and a possible air-intercept attempt along with a UFO sighting on the same evening as the couple claimed they were abducted.

The whole Marjorie Fish star-map story is gone into and, honestly, I came away feeling that this was a strong piece of evidence and, no, Betty would not have been able to fake the chart based on looking at astronomy books at the time.

Page 199-200 refers to what may be one of the first recorded  trance "experiencers" and that I found fascinating because at that time this had never been encountered before.

I think, reading the book, that the sighting of a craft with possible occupant after Barney's death may well have been an hallucination -if you read the book you'll see why.  However that in no way denigrates the original case because there was no extreme stress or ill health involved.  A photo taken by Betty and reproduced on p. 214 is said to show a shadowy figure in a craft window and " possibly stereotypical gray alien emerging from the right side of the disk."  Sadly, due to reproduction of the image on a text page all I can see is two white dots and certainly no shadowy alien or gray let alone a disc-shaped craft. For that reason  I have to throw that out and was one of the weaker elements of the book -but essential to give an overall picture of events.

When it comes to "Betty's fall from grace" in Ufological circles I can say only that it seems that age and Betty wanting to prove UFO reality combined, and yet she so succinctly summed up modern abduction investigators and abductees (pp. 271-272).  And she refers to Dr Simon (who conducted their treatment in the early 1960s) concern that hypnosis would be incorrectly used and exploited by individuals not properly trained -40 years on he is proven correct.

The explanation for claims that Betty thought she could telepathically communicate with aliens is interesting.  In fact most of those claims were bogus.  Betty was taking part in experiments under supervision of no less than Dr J. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee amongst others.  These were scientifically minded people who had to become radical thinkers to try to solve the UFO mystery in one way or another.

Oh, and Betty was not  a sci fi fan.

If there is a reason for why Betty came "off track" other than her ill health in later years it was because she wanted to help others who had seen UFOs or claimed to have been abducted and wanted to prove the reality of UFOs.  And this is where Ufology let her down.  Rather than look at the possibility that repeater sightings were possible -or prove they were not (I recall arguing with Ufologists in the 1970s over this: one case from a witness was accepted but a week later the man reported a similar object moving in another direction -both reports were marked as "unreliable" because the witness had two sightings!).  And while working on the AOP Bureau's Grey Book report I realised that there was nothing "weird" or "unbelievable" or even other worldly about someone saying "I sensed something was going to happen and looked over the field and suddenly a UFO appeared" -the explanation lay in science and this might be why Betty realised something was "off" and saw later objects.

Was this book slanted with a Hill bias?  Yes.  But only because Marden and Friedman possessed the information that Ufologists had not seen or known of before.

I am accused of being a Skeptic.  I have defined what that means before but it does not mean dismiss all material/evidence because you can without looking at it. 

I read this book over Saturday and Sunday (with a break for the Rugby World Cup) and had expected to come up with a list of reasons why the Hill case might be "just another explainable abduction" after all these years.

I actually put the book down realising that Betty and Barney Hill were not the people portrayed by debunkers.  They were plain ordinary human beings who fought for civil rights and social justice and were held in high esteem in their local and wider communities.  They did not become rich from re-telling their story.  They never claimed repeated abductions. They just told their story and stuck to it.  In fact, it is quite clear that the couple probably would have been much happier had they not encountered that UFO. Had they not needed to see Dr Simon to try to find out why Barney was suffering ill health and stress.

In a way, Antonio Villas Boas was lucky.  He reported his account and carried on with his life as normal.  The Hills, due to betrayal of confidence from a number of sources, never had that option.  There is the case of Lydia whose abduction Betty helped investigate.  When word got out Lydia and her family moved to another state and, I assume, settled down to carry on their lives.  The Hills never had that option.

It does not make me feel uneasy to write this (after 40+ years of looking at these cases that would be odd!) but, unlike the Abduction Epidemic since the mid 1980s and all the claims, I have to write that I believe the Hills.  Betty stated that she believed these beings came down, took someone onto their craft, did their tests and made them forget (even if not permanently) and released them.  That's it.  Not many millions of abductees as some claim.

But two days ago I never expected to sit down and write that, after 40 years, I am even more certain that Betty and Barney Hill were abducted by aliens.  Pure and simple.

The book is far superior to Fuller's and I recommend this one highly.

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