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article imageReview: 'Conspiracy Road Trip - 3. UFOs' Special

By Alexander Baron     Oct 16, 2012 in Science
Los Angeles - This is the third in the series of road trips aimed at squelching so-called conspiracy theories. There may or may not be life on other worlds, but have our governments really been covering up alien visits to Earth, or worse?
The theory of extraterrestrial intelligence sounds great, in fact it can be argued that not to believe in intelligent life on other worlds is not simply ludicrous, but arrogant, or even a religious dogma that puts Man at the centre of Creation. Anthropic principle aside, the truth is that nobody knows. There are some people though who go much further than claim simply that aliens may or do exist, specifically that they have been visiting this planet regularly, or even that life on Earth is of extraterrestrial origin.
Here, five disparate true believers from the UK are taken by coach to the epicentre of the modern extraterrestrial movement, Area 51, via the Extraterrestrial Highway.
This episode is presented by Andrew Maxwell, the same critical intellect who presented the previous episodes, including the one on the 7/7 bombings.
Three of the trippers appear to be off the planet themselves; one claims to have met an alien while another claims to have been attacked by them in his own home; they used a form of mind control on him, but happily he was able to break free.
Half way through their trip who should step onto the bus but Michael Shermer, publisher of The Skeptic magazine. When it comes to certain historical matters, Shermer's skepticism gives way to revealed truth, but on the lunacy of the 9/11 crowd and flying saucers, he has something intelligent to say.
Shermer isn't the only person they meet on this trip, and one is not as rational, to put it mildly. At the end, one of the group is set to take a lie detector test, which Maxwell decides not to allow her to take. There is in fact no such thing as a lie detector, certainly they don't work on either psychopaths or delusional people, and therein lies the rub, because many people, perhaps most people, who claim to have experienced actual alien encounters are not lying, but neither are they delusional in the accepted sense.
What Maxwell didn't mention, though it was alluded to obliquely, is the phenomenon of Old Hag Syndrome. Probably most of us experience this at some time, and some medications can accentuate it. Alcohol and other recreational drugs can give rise to both visual and auditory hallucinations as well as false perceptions of reality. It is difficult though to persuade someone who has seen or met aliens in her dreams that she hasn't really met aliens, except in her dreams.
While it is easy to ridicule people like at least two of the road trippers in this documentary, sometimes the failure to recognise these delusions for what they are can have tragic consequences, but let us say no more about that here.
A classic depiction of Old Hag Syndrome. It may also manifest  in this modern age  as alien abductio...
A classic depiction of Old Hag Syndrome. It may also manifest, in this modern age, as alien abductions, or as terrifyingly real hallucinations of rape.
Hexendrücken or The Witch Riding your Back
It goes without saying that not everybody who claims to have seen or met aliens is sincere; probably still the most outrageous is George Adamski (1891-1965), who, although not the first, is widely regarded as the father of the contactee movement, and let's not even mention George King (1919-97), or as he styled himself: Sir George King, O.S.P., Ph.D., Th.D., D.D., Metropolitan Archbishop of the Aetherius Churches, Prince Grand Master of the Mystical Order of St. Peter, and HRH Prince De George King De Santori. Yeah, right.
More about Ufos, UFO, Unidentified flying objects, flying saucers, Michael shermer
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