Thursday, April 16, 2015

Binnall of America

Join me live Thursday, April 16 at 9pm ET on the popular podcast, Binnall of America LIVE Audio. Host Tim Binnall and I will be having a frank discussion on the state of UFO research and troubling stories that 'mainstream' ufology chooses to ignore.

Learn more at the Binnall of America website about the many topics Tim has explored and the guests he has hosted. Previous shows may be accessed in the archive.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the April 16 show along with a summary of the discussion: 

Here is the archive of the Tim Binnall show, Binnall of America: Audio: 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

David Jacobs and Insults to Intelligence

A couple of posts were recently published at the blog of Alfred Lehmberg in which he raised legitimate concerns about the so-called work of retired historian, investigator of alleged alien abduction and hypnotic regression advocate Dr. David Jacobs. In addition to the points raised in the posts, I also appreciated comments submitted by microbiologist Dr. Tyler Kokjohn. I interpreted the comments to be a welcome reminder of how professional research is conducted at institutions which actually value the welfare of human research subjects and adhere to industry standards of obtaining informed consent. Such dynamics seem to chronically elude Jacobs and those who make excuses for failing to follow such protocols. 

Alfred -
If I may offer one point of clarification...
Although I agree completely that acquiring and analyzing samples from alleged hybrids is essential, it is not possible for me to work with Dr. Jacobs. The rules regulating research conduct at my institution would prohibit that collaboration.
Defending himself from the accusations of improper conduct leveled by Emma Woods, Dr. Jacobs took refuge in the claim that he was not actually conducting any research. Instead, he stressed he was only taking oral histories.
Here is the problem from my perspective - the ambit of oral history taking certainly does not include collection of biological samples and their analyses. Moreover, since Dr. Jacobs explicitly stated he was not doing research (biomedical or otherwise), it seems unlikely he provided his subjects with sufficiently detailed informed consent documents to allow for sample collection. In order to obtain permission from my institution to collaborate on any research involving human subjects, it would be necessary to provide full documentation of the research scope, all informed consent documents and plans for dealing with any adverse events that might be foreseeable. After all the necessary documentation has been reviewed, investigators must receive formal approval or an explicit declaration of exemption from the Institutional Review Board before any work may proceed. These requirements are non-negotiable and approvals can never be obtained retroactively. 
But what if Dr. Jacobs, now working as an independent investigator, decided to finally do some real research and collect samples under the aegis of acceptable informed consent rules? Even if the new work met every standard for the ethical and safe conduct of human subject research, I would still refuse to collaborate with him. The events and information regarding the Emma Woods debacle all convinced me I want nothing to do with Dr. Jacobs.
Tyler Kokjohn

It is not unusual for me to be asked my thoughts on various aspects of alleged alien abduction, including the actions of David Jacobs. I have identified his work to be so extremely poor and misrepresented to contain evidence it actually does not that it has become increasingly difficult for me to express my views about it in what I feel are proper proportion to its lack of validity. There is so much ineptness that it is actually challenging to adequately cover it. 

I will offer a few points for consideration below, but please allow me to emphasize that the possibility some people may experience phenomena representing genuine mysteries does not hinge upon the competency or authenticity of David Jacobs and his peers. The fact such researchers could reasonably be interpreted to have made fools of themselves does not equate to necessarily nullifying Fortean topics as a whole. 

The subjectivity and shameless promotion of unsupported beliefs contained in the statements of typical abduction-researchers virtually negates their efforts in and of themselves. The lack of rationality has become so prevalent that at this point I seriously doubt many of them sincerely believe their claims and pro-ETH stances, as compared to simply promoting an agenda they view as advantageous. 

Concerning David Jacobs specifically, I find the following points and contradictions to be relevant:

- In 2011 the False Memory Syndrome Foundation reported that, in response to the accusations leveled by Emma Woods, Temple University asserted Jacobs was only collecting oral histories, not conducting research.

- Contradicting the Temple stance, Jacobs claimed in 2012 to have facilitated DNA-related tests and conducted such research.

- Jacobs further stated the tests in question provided no conclusive results, yet he failed to revise his hypotheses or make details of the tests available for public review. Issues of informed consent and related concerns may apply.

- During a 2014 presentation, Jacobs asserted that he does not conduct hypnosis with alleged alien abductees, but uses relaxation techniques. This is in direct contradiction to the facts he has frequently discussed hypnosis as an investigative tool during his presentations, repeatedly written about its implementation as a memory enhancer, claimed to have been composing a book on the use of hypnosis with abductees and, earlier in literally the same presentation, stated that he began doing hypnosis in 1986. 

- While claiming to believe Emma Woods was being assaulted on an ongoing basis by sexually deviant ET-human hybrids, David Jacobs suggested as a partial solution that he could send her a chastity belt. He became familiar with the device, he explained to her, at a sex shop specializing in bondage dominance that he frequented quite often. Suffice it to say that is not standard protocol for providing functional support to the sexually abused. Neither is it indicative of sincere concerns for the woman or suggestive of authentic belief in dangerous hybrids. 

- Jacobs claimed to believe electronic messages originating from the computer of "Elizabeth," an alleged alien abductee, were composed and sent by a menacing ET-human hybrid, not Elizabeth. When pressed to explain why forensic evidence of the circumstances could not be obtained, Jacobs stated, among other dubious excuses that actually did not make sense, Elizabeth had curtains over her windows and one could not see inside.

There is much more, but if you require more than that to have your intelligence insulted, I don't know what to tell you. I've been thoroughly insulted for quite some time now.   


Related posts:

The Bizarre World of Doctor David Jacobs: An Interview and Review, Part One of Three

The Bizarre World of Doctor David Jacobs: An Interview and Review, Part Two of Three

The Bizarre World of Doctor David Jacobs: An Interview and Review, Part Three of Three

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hypnosis, the Placebo Effect and Human Experimentation

It has been said that hypnosis and the placebo effect are so heavily reliant upon belief and suggestion that it would be hard to imagine how a placebo control could ever be devised for a hypnotism study. I would fundamentally agree with that. Let's consider the placebo effect and how it relates to the UFO community staple, hypnotic regression.

The American Cancer Society describes a placebo (pluh-see-bow) as "a substance or other kind of treatment that looks just like a regular treatment or medicine, but is not." It's a harmless medicine or procedure prescribed more for psychological benefit than physiological effect. It has no therapeutic value and is used as a control in testing new drugs; the drugs must demonstrate substantially better measurable results than the placebo being administered to the control group.

A primary factor of how medication makes
people feel may be their expectations
As we might envision, a great deal of speculation and rather fascinating questions surround the placebo effect. A researcher named Ted Kaptchuk made legitimate attempts to put a yardstick to some of the dynamics. While most studies focus upon the results of the drugs being tested, Kaptchuk was more interested in the placebos.

Harvard Magazine reported Kaptchuk's work was met with both praise and criticism but, take it or leave it, he raised valid questions. In some circumstances, it was difficult to discern if drugs had any particularly different subjective effects at all from placebos. Kaptchuk indicated that even when physiological benefits could be measured among patients given respiratory medication, they reported similar subjective interpretations of their physical conditions, or how they felt, as those given placebos. Observations were also made about patients desiring to be helpful to the researchers and deliver the results anticipated.

What I'm getting at here with hypnotic regression and the placebo effect is that there is virtually no difference between the two. If people believe that investigators of alleged alien abduction have the power to put them in trance states and clarify memories of encounters with extraterrestrials from years gone by, there is little way to validate or invalidate that belief. Slippery slopes.

Moreover, qualified professionals tell us that hypnosis subjects tend to assign more validity to hypnotically retrieved memories - and reject the notion the memories might be inaccurate - than other memories. They also tend to defend the accuracy of their memories more than their peers who have not used techniques designed to supposedly enhance memory. Hypnosis subjects tend to cling to belief in the retrieved memories even when the material is conclusively demonstrated to be inaccurate and false. 

The work of Ted Kaptchuk further showed us the potential value of a good bedside manner. Patients given positive attention ("I’m so glad to meet you"; "I know how difficult this is for you"; "This treatment has excellent results") experienced, or perceived, significant results. Suffice it to say I would fully expect to find that dynamic prevalent among relationships between clients and their hypnotists who present themselves as friendly, charming and empathetic of the trials and tribulations of alien abduction.

Injections reportedly induce stronger
placebo effects than achieved via pills
On a related note, studies are suggesting – and the American Cancer Society indicates – that different means of delivering the placebo come with effects of varying value. An injection works better than a pill, for instance, and a big pill is more effective than a smaller pill.

A 2009 document released by the Department of Defense reported detainees at sites such as Guantanamo Bay were interrogated while drugged. In at least one circumstance, the DoD revealed, a detainee was the subject of a "deliberate ruse" in which interrogators injected him with what he was led to believe was "truth serum." The report also included reference to a 2002 meeting attended by Defense Intelligence Agency interrogation personnel and mental health specialists in which it was noted, "Truth serum; even though it may not actually work, it does have a placebo effect." A 2010 white paper subsequently published by the Physicians for Human Rights called for further investigation and suggested human experimentation was taking place.

I will be presenting more on these topics and several related areas of interest in an upcoming book. It is on track for completion and release in a few months.