Monday, May 08, 2006

No UFOs in Britain

I'm trying to write more frequently. Unfortunately, this weekend was busy and I'm terribly tired right now. So, instead of some deep essay, I thought I'd post this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4981720.stm

A report from the British Ministry of Defence has concluded that UFOs sighted over Great Britain can be attributed to natural phenomena. Some of this phenomena may not be completely understood, but the report doesn't believe that "UFOs" are intelligently controlled vehicles from other worlds.

There isn't a lot of detail in that link. I will have to see if I can find the actual report. Maybe it's available online. I'd like to know what they thought of UFO abductees. I've read a few theories suggesting that "abductions" are the result of incidents while dreaming. There are periods while sleeping when your body makes your body immobile. If you dream during this state you will be unable to move during your dream. If the dream involves a loss of control, perhaps someone tying you down to a bed, it's easy to think you were being abducted by... oh, aliens? The quintessential "alien" (grey, big eyes, slit for a mouth) dates back to the North American TV broadcast of the story about Betty and Barney Hill — abductees and victims of "lost time". The fact that "aliens" were all fairly different in appearance until this TV show suggests that alien visitations are a psychological, rather than physical, manifestion.

The conclusion of this report is kind of sad, actually. Skeptic though I might be, I like the idea of something being a little bit "scary" out there... something that doesn't involve religious fundamentalists and dirty bombs.

3 comments:

Jason said...

You are referring to sleep paralysis. In most people the body's major muscles are paralyzed during REM sleep. A small percentage of the population, mostly men, suffer from what is known as REM Behavior Disorder in which they may literally act out their dreams. Two cases stand out in my memory. A man dreamed he was back in school playing football. He jumped out of bed and tackled his dresser. He broke the mirror and was cut and brusied so badly he had to go to the emergency room. In the other case, a man dreamed he shot a deer which then ran into his barn. He cornered it and, rather than shoot it again, tackled it and began violently twisting its head around to break its neck. In this case it was not the man who needed treatment. He had actually seized his wife's head and was trying to break her neck.
Pretty much the opposite or RBD is sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a disorder that occurs in more than 15% of the population. It actually occurs in the hypnagogic or hypnopompic states. The states of consciousness between full sleep and full wakefulness. While in these states the body remains paralyzed as if the person were experiencing REM, typically because the person is entering or exiting a REM state when the sleep paralysis episode occurs. When this happens the person will feel as if he or she is awake but cannot move. Hypnagogic hallucinations often occur in conjunction with sleep paralysis. Often one will feel as if a heavy weight were on one's chest making it difficult to breath. This has been reported throughout human history and was once known as being "hag ridden." Many people will see "monsters" or "bad people" standing over them, perhaps holding or tying them down. Sometimes they will only feel a threatening presence or may hear noises that sound as if people or things are moving about or talking. I believe people who experience these types of hallucinations may be feeling threatened because of their vulnerable position. Others do not have hallucinations at all or do not experience them with every episode of sleep paralysis. I am one of the latter and have suffered from the condition for many years. More on this later as right now I have to rescue a friend.

Allan Goodall said...

Gosh, I didn't know you were abducted by aliens. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a "sleeping thing". It's okay, you can be straight with me...

Jason said...

Okay, I guess that's what I get for taking a vacation between comments. No, I have never experienced any alien abduction of which I am aware. I have never seen any creature which I even suspected was an extraterrestrial. I do believe life elsewhere in the universe is almost a certainty. I cannot say whether the earth has ever been visited by aliens. It may seem unlikely given the distances and other limiting factors involved in space travel. The simple truth is we do not know what is possible with technology hundreds or thousands of years ahead of ours, especially if the beings who developed it are far more intelligent than us. Despite these possibilities, I pretty much immediately dismiss people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Maybe aliens do abduct people. Maybe aliens sometimes even abduct people who aren't complete nut jobs. I just can't say for sure, but as far as I know aliens have never abducted me, any of my friends or family, or anyone with whom I would actually want to interact.
My early sleep paralysis episodes involved no hallucinations. I simply felt as though I was paralyzed. I knew I had been sleeping and was aware of "awakening" but could not move. I had no idea what was occuring but it did scare me a bit. I asked a few people about it but got no answers until I was in my teens. It wasn't until reading about the condition and finding out that some people saw monsters or other frightening things that I started having occaisional hallucinations as well. Five or six years ago I watched a Discovery channel program on alien abduction. It wasn't until then that I found out about the possible connection between alien abduction and sleep paralysis. Even though I have never had that exact experience, the similarities between abduction scenarios and my episodes of sleep paralysis with hypnagogic hallucination have convinced me that this explanation probably applies to most cases of alien abduction. Most of the rest can lilely be explained by the "nut job" theory. As for any that remain, I'm sure the truth is out there.