Ethics and the changing role of researchers: are contact researchers creating the data, rather than researching it? It is important to the credibility of the UFO community that contact research data is not hijacked and indeed ‘abducted’; carried away and morphed into something that it originally was not.
‘Creating the Field’ : Ethics and the Changing Role of Researchers in Contact Research
Suzy Hansen © 2017
(Note: the term ‘communicator’ is used to collectively represent contactees, abductees, and experiencers)
Professionalism and Respect
It is important I state clearly right from the outset that I am not anti-researcher – being one myself.
Having spent two thirds of my life active in UFO research, I have been privileged to work with many dedicated ethical researchers. I wish to extend my respect and thanks to these people who have worked tirelessly and constructively in ‘service-to-others’, often without recognition. Their commitment and integrity has undoubtedly contributed both to our progressive documentation of UFO sighting events, and to exploring the accounts of communicators during the enlightening years of the ‘contactees’, the often traumatic times of ‘abductees’, and the positive transformative encounters of ‘experiencers’.
I guess I am fortunate because I stand with one foot in each ‘camp’ – researcher/investigator of 43 years, and communicator of 62 years. Longevity allows considerable hindsight, the ability to analyze the unfolding contact field over decades, and time to note the entry and exit of researchers at various points on the timeline and the reasons behind this. In relation to this article I must place myself firmly in the communicator ‘camp’.
Sadly, I feel compelled to say that on occasions, communicators have experienced a raw deal from a small number of researchers who have succumbed to unethical practices and aggressive behaviour – a ‘service-to-self’ group. Bullying and smear campaigns waged against communicators who challenge this unethical behaviour must not be allowed to prosper; integrity is flying out the window and communicators, UFO fraternity members, and indeed the public in general, must be discerning in whom we place our trust.
This article is not an indictment on hard-working researchers with integrity. The focus of the article is on highlighting the unethical practices of a minority, and discussing the need for change in the role of researchers in the contact field by highlighting these issues.
Initially, when the contactee era arose, researchers took a back seat as the reported contacts were positive in nature, and many prominent contactees were competent speakers and traveled the world spreading their message of contact with peaceful human-like beings, with considerable fervour.
The abduction era presented largely negative and traumatic encounters with ET species, and researchers played an important role in conveying these markedly different accounts to the public. However, the unethical practices of some prominent abduction researchers of that time have since been exposed; they have fallen from grace, leaving us wondering just how much of their ‘research’ was valid and untainted, and whether those abductee accounts were faithfully recorded, or modified to achieve status in the field and ensure public appearances and book sales, or prove personal theories.
Moving on to more recent decades to present-day research, we see the role of researchers has changed little to accommodate the more ‘relaxed’ experiencer contact group, many of whom are competent speakers capable of imparting information to the public themselves. However some researchers still desire to speak for us, and will go to any lengths to procure the right to publicise experiencers’ personal accounts, or simply ‘borrow’ the material without permission.
I believe it is time to redefine the role of researchers in this new era.
Dominating the Field
Sherry Wilde, US experiencer and author of “The Forgotten Promise – Rejoining our Cosmic Family”, aptly stated in a conference bio:
“The alien abduction topic is one filled with lots of speculation and conjecture by the UFO investigators. Most of the analysis is being done by those who have never even had a contact experience themselves and can only form opinions based on what they hear and observe from the actual participant.”
If we were to do a head-count of researchers who are active in the contact (abduction, close encounter) field, the number worldwide would be relatively small. I am specifically referring to those who are involved in public speaking, interviews, writing, or regression therapy, and the findings that arise from this, statistical or otherwise. These tend to be the researchers who are better known to the public than many other researchers who for example, work behind-the-scenes.
The ratio of researchers in the contact field compared to the number of communicators out there however, is miniscule, and yet incongruously, researchers are more prominent than communicators in the public arena and on conference speaking schedules, as the representative ‘voices’ of human interactions with extraterrestrial entities and intelligences. The false impression that communicators in general are not capable of analysing their experiences in an objective and intelligent way, is alive and well in the minds of some conference facilitators and the wider public; researchers are still deemed to be needed as some kind of ‘professional filter’ of data.
The fact that some of these researchers actually have no professional qualifications applicable to the tasks of counseling or regression therapy is often overlooked as irrelevant. We need to ask the right questions about their actual qualifications (name of institute, date of graduation, name of course etc), rather than trusting that the vague word ‘professional’ actually means just that, and not simply someone charging money for their services, or that the fact they have been employed or volunteered somewhere equates to formal verifiable qualifications in those areas. This is not to say that unqualified people are not capable of doing a great job, but the crux of the matter is that some unqualified researchers allow others to believe they have the credentials.
Erroneously, some researchers refer to themselves, or allow others to tout them as ‘experts’, ‘leaders in the field’, ‘world renowned’, and ‘famous’ in the contact field. I have been an experiencer all my life, have spoken publicly since 1989, established UFOCUS NZ and Communicatorlink, have talked with countless fellow ‘cosmic travelers’, and have researched the sighting and contact phenomena for over four decades, however I would never apply any of these grandiose terms to myself. Nor have I ever heard any communicators claim these ‘monikers’.
We are all still in the beginning stages of trying to understand what may be the most profound influence on the course of human civilization in the history of our existence.
None of us are experts in this vast and complex subject.
The Real Voices of Contact
To date, the dominance of researchers has in part, hindered progress in the field for decades, as evidenced by disturbing revelations that have emerged over the years concerning unethical researcher behaviour. I am not saying that researcher input is not necessary or is irrelevant – carried out ethically, I believe it has an important role to play in terms of balance, and in the abductee arena in particular, as a bridge enabling abductees to anonymously share often traumatic accounts with the public. However data and conclusions arise from investigation, not merely by proclamation; listening to the actual witnesses, rather than ‘self-listening’ is all-important.
At the same time wherever possible, communicators need to feel confident to ‘step up to the plate’ when they reach that all-important state of readiness. I am aware that many communicators have been taught by their ET counterparts to express information energetically and as frequencies, in other words, to naturally use subtle vocal and emotional energy shifts to convey information in a way that unlocks knowledge and understanding in people’s consciousness. Now more than ever, we need opportunities to do this at this crucial time of chaos on our planet. The interface between humans and extraterrestrials is complex and multi-layered, and wherever possible is best expressed by those who have participated in it.
It is time for communicators themselves to take control of their experiences and information, and to navigate the subject into the future as the real voices of contact.
Since 2015, when I released my book, The Dual Soul Connection, I have been approached by a significant number of abductees and experiencers worldwide (through my website www.commicatorlink.com), who report dissatisfaction with the way their contact accounts/material and regression transcripts have been handled by certain researchers.
These folk have described such issues as breaches of confidentiality and/or intellectual property rights, dismissive attitudes, aggressive smear campaigns, and distortion of their accounts/data to fit the researchers’ personal theories, all of which are unacceptable and distasteful.
Some are concerned their regression sessions contain evidence of what my colleague Bryan Dickeson referred to in a previous article in UFO Truth Magazine (Issue 24, ‘Using Hypnosis When Interviewing UFO Witnesses’) as ‘priming’ the client, ‘leading’ them, ‘shirt-fronting’ (encouraging guesswork or confabulation), and ‘data mining’ for information that bears no relationship to the account the client is revealing under hypnosis, but no doubt serves to provide those researchers/therapists with material for their next book or speech.
The use of telephone or Skype by a handful of researchers to conduct hypnotic regression sessions is, in my mind as a retired professional, grossly unprofessional and irresponsible. Having experienced a state of extreme trauma under hypnosis myself, I have grave concerns for the safety of clients, separated across the world by whole continents and oceans from the researcher seeking to ‘help and support’ the person (or acquire new data). How is a researcher to know if that client is going to need support on hand, or whether they have mental health issues and may self-harm following a disturbing session? It is only a matter of time before a client is seriously harmed, physically or psychologically, and a researcher is held responsible.
In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shape-shifting (or metamorphosis) is the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape. This is usually achieved through an inherent ability of a mythological creature, divine intervention, or the use of magic. Divine intervention and magic aside, when applied to humans, one might contend that a shape-shifter can be a person who quietly and imperceptibly morphs their ideas, their aim being to stay at the top of the game, or in a position of prominence or power.
It seems this ‘inherent ability’ is alive and well with some researchers who are willing to ‘tweak’ their previously held statements or theories overnight in order to match popular ‘trends’, or to cherry-pick statistical survey results to support pet theories, while ignoring statistics that do not support them. People worldwide are beginning to notice this.
‘Creating the Field’
A respected veteran UFO sighting and contact researcher in Australia, Keith Basterfield, made an interesting observation. Keith stated (abridged to remove names):
“Some researchers are taking the dialogue in a different direction. … Even the field of the UFO phenomenon in general, has fragmented into ‘scientific ufology’ and ‘popular culture ufology’. This has led many UFO researchers … to despair that the field can ever recover from this. There is little doubt in my mind that certain experiencer (contact) researchers, … here in Australia, have shaped the research in certain directions, following their own beliefs, as opposed to following the evidence … Ill-founded theories, by some people, are damaging the credibility of the rest of us … Regarding the accounts of children being promoted … this is a dangerous area of research … I would suggest that some researchers are creating this field, rather than researching it…. I see all the hallmarks of suggestive individuals being led on by others. … How do we counter the direction in which some individuals are taking this field?”
I believe Keith’s statement,
“Some researchers are creating this field, rather than researching it,”
is a profoundly true and significant observation. Data is ‘created’, which is then passed on to the public as ‘new research facts’. Basically, an opinion or theory is adopted and then data, however tenuous, is sought to support it. Data that opposes the theory is excluded and ignored, therefore material eventually publicised is often biased, unbalanced, or sensationalised, but provides ‘convincing’ and ‘compelling’ material for speeches and books.
You don’t come up with an idea or theory first and create a niche market of hazy ‘facts’ for yourself around this, which ‘fits’ your personal perspective. A true researcher follows the data to where it leads, and reports the findings clearly and objectively. Conclusions can be drawn, but based on a wide range of inclusive research findings, or later, using retrospective analysis.
It became clear to me on a recent overseas speaking tour that UFO audiences, communicators and ethical researchers are tired of the same old sensationalised material promoted by a loud minority of researchers, and there is a dissatisfied groundswell occurring. People want to hear the ins-and-outs of a topic, the opposing views, and rational objective examination of issues – all in a harmonious exchange without bias, competitiveness, and ego. They are hungry for truth, and have become disenchanted with the fodder served up repeatedly.
In May 2015, my colleague Robert Salas (USA) made a powerful and forthright statement on ‘The State of Ufology’, which he posted on his Facebook page. Robert received huge positive support for his stance.
Here are several excerpts from his statement that relate to issues in this article:
- (‘Kibitzer’is a Yiddish term for a person who offers (often unwanted) advice or commentary. This term is used for a non-participant spectator … or idle chatting or side conversations.)
“I really don’t like the word “ufology” because there is no general scientific consensus about the facts or investigative methodology that we could all use to validate some hypotheses about it; as is done in other sciences. Therefore this subject is ripe for much speculation and quackery. Herein lies the root of the problem. People who are inclined to speculate, elaborate, amplify and confabulate have rushed through this open door. As a result, we are confronted with a full spectrum of ethical and unethical kibitzers, researchers, and witnesses. And, because it is a popular subject it is also ripe for those that would see it as a way to make money … it serves the Cabal and sceptics and presents the public with an example of poor research, gullibility and greed among us.
Unfortunately, then, most UFO conferences are a mash-up of speakers from all of the above … One of the unfortunate outcomes of the current state of affairs is that there seems to be many more non-witnesses speaking at these conferences than actual witnesses to the phenomenon. It is a real shame that many credible witnesses have not been invited to speak at these conferences. These seem to be dominated by the same array of kibitzers posing as researchers.
Witnesses, like the rest of us have jobs, friends, relatives, and reputations. Why risk any of that to be a part of a community that seemingly values showmanship, speculation, innuendo and opinionated chatter over substance?
You can also help by demanding a change to the community environment I have outlined above.
Don’t let the kibitzers pollute the pool of solid witness testimony that is available.
I think Robert’s statement speaks for itself.
The Trivialisation of Contact
A noticeable trend in more recent years is New Age ‘intrusion’, and this presents a conundrum for serious UFO researchers, in the contact area in particular. New Age-inclined conferences and internet platforms have largely replaced serious UFO conferences, and many UFO-related speakers are choosing these venues to reach a wider audience and ‘income stream’. Unfortunately this is having a diminishing effect on legitimate UFO research, and the important unique aspects of contact/witness accounts and testimony are being marginalised in the process.
Researcher Richard Dolan (and others) has been vocal about how this trend to New Age influence is affecting the UFO field. (Readers can listen to Dolan’s and Dave McGowan’s interviews about this on YouTube). What better way for the Cabal to dilute serious UFO research? The result has been to some extent that the UFO/contact phenomenon has become trivialised, watered-down and diffused – lost within a much larger New Age information-fest.
Robert Salas also raised issues of disinformation, contamination, infiltration, and manipulation applicable to this situation:
“There is no question in my mind that an international secret group that I call ‘The UFO Cabal’ is working diligently to insure that the UFO community is dysfunctional, ineffective, and in disarray. With the (intentional and/or unintentional) help of some individuals within the community, they are definitely succeeding. As in the past, agents of the Cabal have infiltrated groups, associations and organisations within the UFO community.”
I think we can all recognize the fact that UFO, New Age, and other ‘alternative’ topics often attract people who succumb to the ‘cult’ mentality, where ‘followers’ gather around a ‘leader’, blindly accepting and defending their every utterance as ‘fact’.
This situation brings to mind the scene from the movie Independence Day, where ‘blind believers’ are on top of a sky scraper, dancing and calling out ‘Welcome!’ as an alien craft cruises overhead. It stops, and the ‘followers’ wave ecstatically, but in response the aliens shoot a laser beam down, obliterating them all.
It is an unfortunate quirk of human nature that we are often attracted to a ‘guru’ who influences the thinking of the time, positively or negatively. I have observed this kind of status creeping into the contact field, where some researchers attain almost celebrity status through slick self-promotion, appealing to what the crowds want to hear, buying into trendy topics and memes (an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other means).
These elements de-focus serious research and inhibit public access to the legitimate, currently known facts of the phenomenon. Today, many current UFO contact researchers and communicators have almost entirely aligned themselves with the New Age community, and the uniqueness and complexity of bona fide UFO-related contact data may eventually cease to exist in its purest forms.
We are witnessing a lot of ‘magical thinking’, exotic ideas and ever more sensational claims, but we need well-grounded objective or scientific-based research to inform the public. Vital critical thinking skills are sadly in decline. Evidence in the form of unbiased documentation, scientific support, or substantial corroboration and testimony is not considered by many to be necessary. Although I concede as an experiencer myself, that much of what communicators describe of onboard craft environments is so far in advance of our current understanding of physics and consciousness, that it appears ‘sci-fi’, ethical behaviour and procedural standards of investigating and documenting that information should still be paramount.
The ‘Star Child’ theory and its related successors ‘Indigo Children’, ‘Crystal Children’, ‘New Humans’ etc, are perfect examples of how some researchers have successively claimed ‘new’ information, which has often been derived from old theories. New researchers entering the field over time have not done their homework concerning historical data and theories. None of this is ‘new’ at all. It has been theorized about for decades, within a variety of professional disciplines and with a multiplicity of rational attributions.
In fact, based on experiencer survey statistics, the majority of communicators do not agree with the concept of ‘Star Kids’ in general and report they have not been given information by ETs about Star Kids and Indigos, or a ‘New Earth’, or claims that ETs are upgrading our DNA etc. The tendency of some researchers to encourage almost anyone who has had paranormal experiences to believe they are a Star Kid, Star Seed, New Human or hybrid, etc, often without grounded evidence of any kind, has as Robert Salas stated above, allowed people to “rush through this open door.”
The ‘Star Child’ theory and its related successors ‘Indigo Children’, ‘Crystal Children’, ‘New Humans’ etc, are examples of how researchers have successively claimed ‘new’ information, much of which has been derived from a variety of decades-old theories within the contact field (but also in mainstream science and psychology concerning a new type of human evolving as a result of radical new technology, behaviour, and natural selection, rather than alien intervention).
Interestingly, based on the results of experiencer survey statistics, it seems the majority of communicators report they have not been given information by ETs about Star Kids and Indigos, or a ‘New Earth’, or claims that ETs are ‘upgrading our DNA’ etc.
The tendency of some researchers to encourage almost anyone who has had paranormal experiences to believe they are a Star Kid, Star Seed, New Human or hybrid, etc, often without evidence of any kind has, as Robert Salas stated above, allowed people to “rush through this open door.”
My colleague Bryan Dickeson (NZ/Aust) made a statement relevant to the tendency of people to accept everything at face value:
“Knowing the history of ‘the UFO movement’ material is key to our understanding of it … There is a tendency for new arrivals to dismiss all that ‘old stuff’ as irrelevant; to only concentrate on the ‘smoking gun’ that will be found tomorrow. This form of collective amnesia means that we keep wasting time reinventing the wheel; so much ‘new’ stuff is in fact old stuff, rebadged and repackaged. It’s been discussed ad nauseum and often found wanting. Newbies don’t want to consider the shortcomings – everything and anything ufological must be good and must be ‘believed’.”
Coming Full Circle: Professionalism and Respect
Some researchers/regression therapists espouse ‘honour and respect’ for experiencers of contact, the very people who provide the information upon which their research ‘careers’ are based, and yet often their behaviour towards these people has not matched such lofty aims. Any truly qualified professional working with vulnerable people will know there is a ‘duty of care’ to be respected, to ‘do no harm’, to work with positive intent, and certainly never to engage in unethical behaviour and practices against their clients. We are in service to others (the bigger picture), not service to self (ego based).
My own experiences suggest that communicators will come forward with their accounts en masse over the next few years, and I would like to think fellow communicators and ethical researchers will be there to support them. What is necessary now is for us all to do our part to ensure this happens. But first we must work to challenge and change that small kernel of ‘negative culture’ that exists in research, by modelling positive appropriate behaviour and exemplifying balanced investigative research.
Essentially, we are documenting a complex, but phenomenal era of human history and it behoves us to do so with ethical commitment, humility, and respect towards each other. My thanks and respect to Robert, Keith, Bryan, Sherry, and many others for speaking out. It is important to the credibility of the UFO community that contact research data is not hijacked and indeed ‘abducted’; carried away and morphed by the ‘kibitzers’ into something that it originally was not.
Suzanne Hansen, author, researcher, experiencer, NZ