Courtesy of Daily VICE.

I Tried to Understand People Who Claim to Have Been Abducted by Aliens

What happens when empathy starts outweighing rationality.

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Jul 12 2017, 5:40pm

Courtesy of Daily VICE.

Some of the most vivid memories of my youth are about aliens, or rather—watching aliens on television. While my interest began with fear it eventually bloomed into intrigue explored mostly through television, movies and Ray Bradbury. I never read up on anything or anyone who truly believed in aliens until quite recently when I found out about the Alien Cosmic Expo. The three day event that took place in Toronto this year claims to be one of the largest conventions for alien enthusiasts. And it was here that I met a young woman who claimed to be an alien human hybrid.

The first day of the expo featured people telling their own abductions and amongst the speakers one headshot stood out to me in particular—Elizabeth April's. After clicking on Elizabeth April's dramatic glamour shot, I read her biography and then I read it again because I truly couldn't parse the first sentence:

"Elizabeth April will be exploring the topic of hybrids who are a combination of both human and alien species, provide an overview of human and alien past lives and the fact that we have all have had past lives before this one and that you are the sum of all your past lives, human or alien."

The rest of her bio read more or less the same way, it was rife with phrases and lingo (she has a deep understanding of "vibrational frequencies") that showed just the type of deep base level of understanding they expected of their attendees. This was the real deal.

Passing Elizabeth April on the street, you'd never know she's an alien human hybrid. She has the disposition and look of an eager yoga instructor. She was more than happy to tell me all about her abduction which occurred when she was only 18 while at a meditation retreat in Egbert, Ontario. As we began talking she had one thing she wanted me to know, "I just want to say that before I got taken by aliens, I had really no concept of aliens at all." Assuring me that she had never thought about them as they weren't a part of her reality, I asked myself whether or not this was her way of trying to convince me.

Her story begins in the middle of the night. "Hovering above me was this giant white head, the next thing I knew I was being taken from my room." She said the tall almost humanoid looking creature (called tall whites) multiplied into three and took her into the hallway of where she was staying. From there, Elizabeth April said she doesn't remember how, but she was somehow aboard their ship.

She explained that her ear was probed with a type of cylindrical mechanism. Paralyzed but still conscious, all she could do was sit around as the aliens examined her. Once it was over, she found herself back in her bed, once again with a memory gap between getting from the ship to her room. "Instinctively, I went over to the side of my ear and just a trickle of blood was dripping down my ear," Elizabeth April tells me. For her the blood she had felt was her "instant validation" that the abduction wasn't in her own mind.

I spent almost an hour speaking with Elizabeth April about her story, trying to figure out exactly how I'd feel had I been in her position—I couldn't help but empathize. It was clear to me that whatever happened (or didn't happen), this experience was real to her and that nothing could convince her otherwise. But most importantly, this abduction changed how Elizabeth April understood her existence as a human.

This is where her story veers away from a "typical" abduction tale. After her abduction Elizabeth April claims she began having recollections of who she truly was: an interdimensional being or more specifically an "energetic hybrid." In this lifetime, she is connected with her past life as a "tall grey" Zeta alien. "They come from the 6th and 8th dimension," she told me. She was an alien in her past life, which she is still connected to.

Over the next couple of weeks, I found myself deep into reading about alien abduction stories and watching YouTube channels of other so-called hybrids. I would tell anyone who'd listen about what I'd learned and experienced with Elizabeth April. I'd outwardly agree the entire thing was ridiculous, but a part of me did entertain the possibility. Why did these people think they were actually abducted?

In an unanticipated turn, I couldn't stop thinking about what I had learned from Elizabeth April. I needed to speak to someone within Elizabeth April's world but someone who had a bit more credit and weight behind them. So I decided to call David M. Jacobs, a high-profile Ufologist and former American History professor at Temple University. Jacobs isn't exactly taken seriously by the mainstream (Carl Sagan was a critic of his methods), because so much of his research relies partly on hypnosis—it's considered faulty memory retrieval. Jacobs himself told me as a professor at Temple University, many of his fellow professors were waiting for him to retire so he would no longer be associated with their faculty (he explained his tenure is mostly why he was able to do so much alien research on the side).

Since 1986, Jacobs has studied over 1,150 "abductees." Not only has he interviewed abductees, Jacobs also believes that alien human hybrids are already here—but that they're dangerous and you should never want to be around one.

Jacobs told me that while April could've been abducted and is now confused or trying to make sense of her experience, there was absolutely no way she was a hybrid.

"Hybrids can control humans neurologically, and we cannot control them," Jacobs told me.

April would never need to tell me she had any alien bred within her, via past-life or current life because it just wouldn't make sense, he hypothesized. "There would be no concept in your mind that she was not one. She'd have already convinced you she was a hybrid because she can do what with her mind."

It goes further than that. According to Jacobs, true hybrids use abductees to help them blend into regular society. Not only that, but they're already infiltrating our society. "Abductees are teaching them how to go to a store, they're showing them how what a shopping cart is and what what you do with an egg and things like that." Apparently, there are extremely powerful half-aliens trying to just blend in and be human—an image I somehow find weirdly comforting.

"If you can control people and know what they're thinking, you're not going to be at some UFO convention. You're going to be lounging in a multi-million dollar home that you own." I wanted so badly to ask Jacobs whether or not celebrities were hybrids, because it would make so much sense, but he was really getting serious about how we should be scared of hybrids.

At this point, I felt I had spent too much time down the rabbit hole, and I was beginning to question my own beliefs, sanity and what was considered normal. Speaking to Jacobs, I couldn't find any flaw in what he told me other than it sounding entirely unbelievable. I knew I had to speak to a "real" scientist, someone who wasn't putting these people down—but trying to understand them.

Dr. Neill Dagnal is a senior researcher at the Manchester Metropolitan University and has spent years researching paranormal belief and the cognitive-perceptual bias. According to him, there are scientific reasons as to why people truly believe they've been abducted. In an article published in The Conversation, both he and his colleague Ken Drinkwater from MMU explained the various reasons why people believe they've been abducted, with much of it having to do with both personality traits and brain sensitivity.

It would be easy to assume those who've claimed to have alien experiences may have a type of mental instability, but according to research one huge common trait in those who've believed in abduction experiences is a "proclivity for fantasy." Meaning if they've suffered from an extreme or stressful life event, this means they could easily detach from reality by explaining it with an abduction.

Another common abduction story characteristic that matches Drinkwater and Dagnal's research as to why some believe they've been abducted is the common experience of having gone through sleep paralysis. Many abductees claimed to have been unable to move, but remain wakeful and conscious during their abduction experience (April is one of these people).

"This is more common than people realize." Dagnall told me from his office in Manchester.

What sets Dagnall apart from someone who'd easily want to call a person like Elizabeth April "crazy," is that for him it's not about debunking or disproving those who believe they've had alien experiences. In fact, painting them all with the same brush only hinders a better understanding of what could make someone want to believe they've been abducted.

"There's not a great number of actual studies on abductees," Dagnall told me. "What they [studies] tend to in the literature is to treat abductees as a homogenous group and assign general psychological theory." This means our common understanding of alleged abductees is flawed. According to one study he referenced, abductees, "Show patterns of emotional and physiological response to these 'memories' that are strikingly similar to those of people who have been genuinely traumatized by combat or similar events."

Unfortunately, Dagnall explained to me that broad generalizations of those who've claimed to be abducted makes them retreat into their own worlds, not unlike the Alien Cosmic Expo. This happened to Elizabeth April when she told her friends about her abduction, she was ostracized and called her as "crazy."

There's no doubt that truly believing you've experienced something traumatic, only for nobody to believe you would be an awfully lonely life. As Dangall told me, many of these people are looking for ways to cope with real life, they're not trying to convert anyone to believing in aliens. It's the lack of mainstream understanding that pushes them into the fringes.

Asking Dagnall about whether or not it would be possible for the general population to get to a point where they could coexist with "abductees" while still not indulging them, he doesn't think it's that easy. While most people are fine with believing there's life outside of our planet, believing in abductees is a step too far. "I don't know how you would go about more likely accept or more tolerant of them." Dagnall told me. "People aren't sympathetic."

Knowing what I know now, I'm almost unsure of where I expected to end up conclusively. Like Dagnall explained, I'm part of the majority who's cool with believing life could exist outside of what we know on Earth, but abduction is still a step too far.

I asked April how someone would know whether or not they were a hybrid and she told me there were signs for her. To me, they sounded relatable only because I don't know anyone who's not felt this way. Before her abduction she mentioned, "I was really questioning a lot of things in my life, I was questioning the government, I was questioning the education system and my own reality." Not unlike any teenager, April was desperately looking for answers to questions—she just found them in a very different—maybe alien—way.

Follow Sarah Hagi on Twitter.

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