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MatthewBBowmann141 karma

I actually don't think extraterrestrials have visited earth; I think the extraterrestrial hypothesis is riddled with logical difficulties.

MatthewBBowmann112 karma

This is correct. It particularly escalated after Barney's death in 1969. I think that her ideas about what UFOs were evolved after their initial encounter in 1961. Increasingly, through the late 1960s and 1970s, she began connecting UFOs to all manner of other "high strangeness" - psychic powers, reincarnation, ghosts and life after death and so on.

The early UFO people she came in contact with - Donald Keyhoe and the like - thought of UFOs as not much more than nuts-and-bolts craft built on other planets and flown here. By the 1970s, though, she was interacting with people who connected UFOs to a vast network of cosmic conspiracies, psychic energies, and so on, and began to see them all around her.

In a nutshell, I think her journey is an interesting illustration of the rise of the New Age movement in America, growing suspicion of mainline science, and general distrust of government. Lots on this in the book.

MatthewBBowmann107 karma

I think they were telling the truth about what they remembered as they remembered it. I think it shouldn't be terribly controversial that they saw something strange in the sky. About the abduction - well - those memories emerged under hypnosis and as recovered memory, and that's a lot trickier. There's good reason to think that recovered memory needs to be treated carefully.

MatthewBBowmann57 karma

I did! Frankly, we didn't learn much from the hearings that those following the news didn't already know. Grusch and Fravor and Graves for the most part simply repeated the things they'd already told the press. The most notable thing here, I think, is that there were hearings at all. After several decades of disinterest, members of Congress seem to think that there's something worth talking about going on here.

MatthewBBowmann51 karma

I'm particularly interested in twentieth century religion. Back in the 1950s and 1960s there were a lot of people repeating what was called the "secularization" hypothesis - the idea that as societies grew increasingly scientific and technological and rational, religion would fade.

It turns out that this isn't true. Traditional denominations are waning in membership, but other ways of enacting the things that religion has often done (seeking for meaning, invoking power beyond one's self, that sort of thing) has migrated to new forms - astrology and energy work and all sorts of things you can find on TikTok.

One of those forms, it turns out, is UFOs, which seem to blend ideas about science and technology with traditional religious impulses. There are a lot of what scholars call 'UFO religions' at work in America today. One of the reasons the Hills interested me is that they began the 1960s as fairly traditional Unitarians. By the end of the decade they're interested in psychic power and reincarnation and all sorts of new religious movements.