In fact, as Shermer points out in his books, Why Smart People Believe Weird Things, there are quite intelligent (seemingly sane) people who believe this stuff. “But neither the smarts nor the money alter one iota the fact that there exists not one piece of tangible evidence of alien visitation,” he writes. “And where evidence is lacking, the mind fills in the gaps, and smart minds are better at gap filling.”

It’s not surprising that experiencers like Hewins think the sleep-paralysis explanation is “ridiculous, up there with swamp gas and weather balloons” (two other oft-cited explanations for UFO sightings). Like many UFOlogists and alleged abductees, she believes a conspiracy is afoot to cloud the truth. “So many people are so quick to dismiss this as fiction, but the government and other people in power have covered it up and made it so convincingly not real.”

Perhaps here is a good place to note the official position of the Center for SETI Research, the private, non-profit organization dedicated to studying life in the universe (and searching for other life forms). SETI receives funding from both the government and private sources and is widely considered to be a legitimate, science-based program. 

“One-third of the American public (and a similar fraction of the citizenry in other countries) is convinced that extraterrestrials may be buzzing the countryside in their spacecraft, or occasionally alighting in the back yard to abduct a few humans for breeding experiments,” the SETI website reads. “This would be of enormous interest and importance, and (in our opinion) impossible to hide, particularly if it’s happening internationally. The presence of aliens on our planet is not something you would want to hide: it would be the biggest science story of all time, and tens of thousands of university researchers would be working away on it. . . . However, despite the popularity of aliens in both movies and TV, and more than a half-century of UFO sightings, the lack of credible physical evidence has made it difficult for serious scientists to believe that UFOs have anything to do with extraterrestrial visitors.”

But that won’t sway the true believers. Indeed, it’s not overstating things to frame this weekend’s conference in religious terms; one who believes fervently in aliens is not much different from one who believes fervently in God. For experiencers, alien abduction is their unassailable truth, their space-age theology.

“I know that this is real,” Hewins says passionately. “I’m positive. I know what I’m doing is right. And the people who are so quick to judge . . . eventually they’re going to realize that it’s true.” 

Take the quiz

Check off each item if it has happend to you.

According to the Starborn Support website (starbornsupport.com), you may have been abducted by aliens if you . . .

Have had unexplainable missing or lost  time of one hour or more. Not while blacked out drunk, presumably.

Have been paralyzed in bed with a being in your room.

Have unusual scars or marks with no possible   explanation on how you received them (small scoop indentation, straight line scar, triangular marks, scars in roof of mouth, in nose, behind or in ears).

Have seen balls of light or flashes of light    in your home or other locations. First be sure it’s not your neighbor playing with fireworks.

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Related: TV's conservative bias, Review: Men In Black 3, A genetic analysis of the Alien franchise, More more >
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