The Wall Street Journal’s science writer, Sharon Begley, reviews ($) the new book Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, previously noted in this posting of last week. Excerpt from the Begley piece (emphasis and extra paragraphing added):
Numerous studies have found that abductees are not suffering from mental illness. They are unusually prone to false memories, she and colleagues found in a 2002 study, and tend to be unusually creative, fantasy-prone and imaginative, but so are lots of people who have never met a little green man. * * *
Do they understand that sleep paralysis, in which waking up during a dream causes the dream to leak into consciousness even while you remain unable to move, can mimic the weird visions and helplessness that abductees describe? Of course, they say, but that doesn't apply to them. As one abductee explained, she was taken not while she slept but when she was on the couch watching Letterman. * * *
The principle of parsimony that underpins all of science -- the simplest explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be right -- is, well, alien to abductees. So is the notion that "it feels right" doesn't make it so, and that exceptions to rules are, indeed, exceptions.