Aliens and ontology: Are abductions “not real” if they’re “just dreams”?
Note the predictable materialist-reductionist assumption that characterizes a newly reported round of research into the alien abduction phenomenon. Because people could be trained to see/experience aliens and abductions while such phenomena were clearly not physically happening, Michael Raduga of Los Angeles’ Out-of-Body Experience Research Center deemed the phenomena themselves to be, therefore, illusory products of the human mind.
From Live Science and its sister site, Life’s Little Mysteries (with emphases added by me):
Researchers say they have conducted “the first experiment to ever prove that close encounters with UFOs and extraterrestrials are a product of the human mind.” In a sleep study by the Out-Of-Body Experience Research Center in Los Angeles, 20 volunteers were instructed to perform a series of mental steps upon waking up or becoming lucid during the night that might lead them to have out-of-body experiences culminating in encounters with aliens. According to lead researcher Michael Raduga, more than half the volunteers experienced at least one full or partial out-of-body experience, and seven of them were able to make contact with UFOs or extraterrestrials during these dream-like experiences.
Raduga designed the experiment to test his theory that many reports of alien encounters are actually instances of people experiencing a vibrant, lifelike state of dreaming. If he could coach people to dream a realistic alien encounter, he said, that could prove that reports of such encounters are really just a product of our imaginations.
– “Alien Abductions May Be Vivid Dreams, Study Shows” (October 26, 2011)
From the Daily Mail (with emphases added by me):
Lead researcher Michael Raduga said, ‘Alien contact is not indicative of the existence of otherworldly civilizations, but rather of a poorly studied state of consciousness that people fall into inadvertently…The fact that UFOs and extraterrestrials may be deliberately encountered in a controlled manner, and within a few days proves that such experiences are a product of the human brain.’
Reading this, I can’t help wondering whether Raduga has ever heard of — to name just one pertinent counter-example — the DMT research conducted by Rick Strassman, and the entirely anti-reductionist attitude that he adopted while trying to interpret and understand the results. Strassman led numerous test subjects through multiple DMT trips over a period of years, and sat right beside them the whole time, and saw no aliens or other-dimensional beings himself — and yet he refused to reject out-of-hand the subjects’ accounts of entering other worlds and encountering such beings. Instead, he approached the whole thing with a truly open mind and used the data as a spur to philosophical/ontological and scientific reflection about the nature of reality itself and the possibility of alternative realms or dimensions that exist alongside the empirical one and are just as real as (or maybe even more real than?) it is.
Even more starkly, I can’t help wondering what Raduga makes of the more pervasive phenomenon of religious experience, whose accompanying particulars are no less invisible to and undetectable by empirical observation than the typical alien abduction experience (although all of these things — spiritual/religious phenomena, alien/UFO activity, and other supernatural and paranormal things — do have a tenacious tendency to impact the empirical world occasionally and erratically in ways that defy duplication and repeatability and, therefore, confirmation or disconfirmation in laboratory experiments). Would Raduga and Co. blithely announce that they have proved religious experience is likewise “mere” mental projection if they could teach people to produce it at will?
Well, actually, that might be exactly what they would say, given the similar line of thought that has been advanced regarding, for example, the connection between religious experience and temporal lobe epilepsy. Then there are the related assertions from Michael Persinger about the significance of the experiences produced by his famous “God helmet.” A simple web search turns up the fact that Raduga himself is known for both his OBE focus and his non-belief in metaphysical matters. We’re living in the age of neuro-everything, including neurotheology. Neurological reductionism is a part of the zeigeist. Maybe “neuroparanormality” will be next.
If so, its popularity won’t make it any less wrong-headed. Neurological reductionism of any kind only pretends to answer questions, when in reality it begs and buries them, and then tries to act as if the conversation is over.