Alien abduction: the story of Betty and Barney Hill


(Here's a draft from something I am working on - image is entirely borrowed)

The First Alien Abduction: Betty And Barney Hill

Jack takes a bite of chocolate cake starts to tell Sarah about another famous case.

JACK: Here’s a another UFO story I think you’ll find it very hard to explain. It was the first case of alien abduction to get a lot of publicity.
SARAH: Abduction?
JACK: Yes - alien abduction is where humans are taken by aliens. This case happened back in1961. Betty and Barney Hill were out driving in their car at night. It was a beautiful clear night and the stars were twinkling above them. Then, after a while, they spotted a mysterious light behind them. It was a UFO! And what was most scary is that the UFO started to chase them.

ILLUSTRATE: CAR BEING CHASED BY A LIGHT - PANICKED COUPLE INSIDE.

SARAH: The UFO chased them?
JACK: Yes! Scary, huh? Then, when Betty and Barney finally got home, they found that two whole hours had mysteriously disappeared.

ILLUSTRATION: BARNEY LOOKING AT WATCH AND SAYING ‘WHERE DID ALL THAT TIME GO?’

SARAH: They 'lost' two hours?
JACK: Yes – they simply had no memory of what had happened to them for two whole hours.
SARAH: That is weird.
JACK: It gets even weirder. Later, Betty and Barney began to remember being taken by the aliens.
SARAH: Taken? Where were they taken?
JACK: Into that spaceship!

ILLUSTRATE: TWO PEOPLE BEING LED BY ALIENS INTO FLYING SAUCER

SARAH: Did they see the aliens?
JACK: Yes, Betty and Barney both saw them. Barney said the aliens had no ears or hair or noses. And the aliens’ heads were shaped like bullets. And Barney also said that the space creatures also had long eyes which seemed to wrap round the sides of their heads.
SARAH: Yuk!
JACK: So you see - that’s what happened to Betty and Barney during those missing two hours. They were abducted by aliens and their memories 'wiped'. Later Betty and Barney’s memories of the aliens started to come back. They began to remember the extraordinary things that had happened to them!

ILLUSTRATE: ALIENS AS DESCRIBED EXAMING BETTY AND BARNEY WHO ARE STRAPPED INTO CHAIRS, HYPNOTIZED.

Now Betty and Barney were two perfectly normal people. They had no particular reason to make up a story like this. So it seems to me we have a pretty good reason to trust them. Maybe they’re lying. But it hardly seems likely, does it?

Jack’s right - Barney and Betty’s story does seem very convincing. Certainly, many people believe that Betty and Barney really were taken aboard an alien spacecraft that night. But to be honest, I’m not so sure.
Let’s take a closer look.


A closer look at Betty and Barney Hill’s story

Betty Hill described exactly what she saw that night in great detail. She said that the Moon was almost full. On previous nights Betty had noticed a star down by the moon, slightly lower, and to its left. And then, on the night of the abduction, Betty noticed a second, bigger light above the first. Betty said:

ILLUSTRATION: BETTY SAYING THE FOLLOWING: ‘…IT HADN’T BEEN THERE BEFORE. AND I SHOWED IT TO BE BARNEY, AND WE KEPT WATCHING IT. IT SEEMED TO KEEP GETTING BRIGHTER AND BIGGER LOOKING.’

This object, which Betty thought to begin with was just a star, was the UFO that 'chased' them.
            So what was this mysterious light? UFO investigator Robert Schaeffer checked out Betty’s story. He found out from an astronomer how the sky would have looked on the night Betty and Barney had the UFO experience. The sky would have looked like this:

ILLUSTRATION: I WILL SUPPLY ROUGH.

You can see Betty was right. The moon was nearly full. And there was a star below and to the left of moon.
But hang on – what’s that other star a little higher up?
            That’s the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is exactly where Betty and Barney Hill saw their UFO. It turns out Betty and Barney really did see a bright light. But it seems it was probably the planet Jupiter.
            So why did Betty and Barney think Jupiter was 'chasing' them? Because they thought it 'seemed to get bigger and brighter'. Now maybe, as it rose over the horizon, Jupiter really did start to shine more brightly. Or maybe, having stared at it for some time, it just seemed to Betty and Barney that it got bigger and brighter. Maybe their eyes played tricks on them.
            Who knows? What seems fairly clear is that Betty and Barney’s UFO wasn’t an alien spacecraft. It was a planet.

            Maybe you don’t think that people would be so silly as to mistake an ordinary planet for an alien spacecraft? Actually, it happens a lot. Especially when the planet is low down in the sky. The mind plays tricks on us. In the excitement generated by the thought that the light might be an alien spacecraft, even a planet can suddenly seem huge, weird and scary.
            In his book UFOs: The Public Deceived, Phillips J. Klass describes a very similar case.
            It was back in 1976. The Star newspaper sent a two-man team of reporters to the construction site of a nuclear plant over which a UFO was appearing each night. The police had been called, and Officer Ross Denson first drove over to investigate.

ILLUSTRATE: DENSON BY HIS POLICE CAR LOOKING UP AT THE OBJECT HANGING OVER THE CONSTRUCTION SITE. BATHED IN THE LIGHT FROM IT.

Denson said the object 'was about half the size of the moon, and it just hung there over the plant.'
At dawn the UFO vanished. The police also got a call from air traffic control at a local airport which said that an unidentified blip had appeared on their radar.
            Paul Dogherty, the Star’s reporter, now takes up the story:

Next night the same thing happened… Wake County Sheriff Ron Stewart reported 'a large lighted object'. Auxillary officer Danny Matthews saw ‘'ive objects – they appeared to be burning. An aircraft came by while I was watching. They seemed to be 20 times the size of the plane.' … Wake County Magistrate Phillip Castelbury saw an astonishing sight 'It was a rectangular object, looked like it was on fire…We figured it [was] about the size of a football field.'

So what was this football-field sized object? Dogherty and the Star’s photographer decided to jump into their car and chase after it. They found that no matter how fast they went, they could never get any closer!

ILLUSTRATE: THE TWO REPORTERS CHASING THE BRIGHT OBJECT AT BREAKNECK SPEED. ONE IS SAYING ‘PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN! WE’RE LOSING IT!’

Finally, the two newspapermen pulled up and got out of their car. Then the photographer looked at the UFO through one of his long lenses. He finally discovered the truth. He said

ILLUSTRATION: MAN LOOKING THROUGH SLR WITH LONG LENS SAYING; ‘YEP…THAT’S THE PLANET VENUS ALL RIGHT.’

This case shows how several policemen, two reporters and a magistrate can all quite easily be fooled by Venus.
The magistrate even said the UFO was 'rectangular' and 'about the size of a football field'!

ILLUSTRATE: MAN LOOKING UP AT GREAT BURNING RECTANGLE IN THE SKY. HE IS RECOILING HORROR: 'ARGH! IT’S THE SIZE OF A FOOTBALL FIELD!' CAPTION: MAN SEES VENUS.

Betty and Barney undoubtedly made a similar mistake. In their excitement their imaginations turned an ordinary planet into an alien spacecraft that chased them! The difference is that their planet is Jupiter, not Venus.
But what about Betty and Barney’s abduction? What about their memories of the aliens, who, according to Barney, had bullet-shaped heads, wrap-around eyes, and no ears, nose or hair?
Obviously, if Betty and Barney didn’t see an alien spaceship, but only the planet Jupiter, then it’s hardly likely they were taken up into a spaceship, is it? And in fact there’s plenty of evidence that no abduction took place.
What evidence?
Well, for a start, it turns out that Betty and Barney gave completely different descriptions of what the aliens looked like. Betty said the aliens had big noses, dark hair and were human-looking. Barney said they had no hair, no noses, and weird, bullet-shaped heads. They also had wrap-around eyes.
So Betty and Barney’s aliens looked completely different!

ILLUSTRATION: THE TWO DIFFERENT ALIEN HEADS LABELLED: ‘BETTY’S ALIEN’; ‘BARNEY’S ALIEN’.

Worse still, Barney’s aliens look like the aliens on a TV show called The Outer Limits that had been broadcast just two weeks earlier. Even the things the aliens said were similar. On the TV show, one alien says:

[LLUSTRATE: ALIEN SPEAKING THESE LINES '…in all the unities beyond all the universes, all who have eyes have eyes that speak. I learn each word just before I speak it. Your eyes teach me.' END ILLUSTRATION]

Under hypnosis, Barney said,

ILLUSTRATE: BARNEY SAYING THE FOLLOWING (BARNEY’S A BLACK GUY)] 'They won’t talk to me. Only the eyes are talking to me. I-I-I-I don’t understand that. Oh, the eyes don’t have a body. They are just eyes.' END ILLUSTRATION].

That’s a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it? It suggests that Barney saw that TV show, and that then shaped what he thought had happened to him.
To begin with, Betty and Barney’s case looked very much like a genuine case of alien abduction. But now we have taken a closer look, it’s pretty obvious Betty and Barney were fooled by Jupiter. Then, later on, they just imagined the whole 'alien abduction'.
This case is pretty clearly explained!

JUDGE SAYING 'VERDICT: EXPLAINED!'



Comments

brenda said…
Patrick Nielsen Hayden's blog Making Light did an analysis of the Betty and Barney Hill incident back in 2007. The Hayden's are SF publishers and I loved that blog back in the day.

https://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009378.html

That should get you to the thread. Highly recommended reading as it is incredibly detailed. They debunk several myths surrounding the incident.

Brian Dunning also did an episode on the Hill abduction.

https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4124
stephen law said…
Had not seen the Haydon - I'll revise accordingly. Thanks!