Betty Hill, Not a Member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club

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August 24, 2013 by kittynh

 

A young Sagan

A young Sagan

Betty Hill, from what I have heard from those that knew her, and her own letters and papers at the UNH Archives, was the eternal optimist.  Betty Hill wasn’t just abducted by a UFO in 1961.  She saw UFO’s on an almost daily basis, believed in ghosts, and even looked for Bigfoot.  If it was paranormal, it was normal to Betty.  Her personality was the very definition of what skeptics often refer to as “fantasy prone”.

While I have read many definitions for “fantasy prone”, my own definition comes from working with alien abduction experiencers and Bigfoot hunters. A fantasy prone person is someone that can compartmentalize their life in a way most of us are incapable of doing.  The “fantasy prone” can work a 9-5 job, raise a family, be a wonderful neighbor, and do volunteer work.  The person is not only “normal” but also productive and seen as an asset to society. Yet, this very same person can also throw all the common sense ,that allows them to function well with most of their life, out of the window when it comes to the paranormal.  They function well yet hold a belief that most people only consider as a possibility.  Many people are open to the possibility of ghosts, Bigfoot or aliens.  The Fantasy Prone are firm believers, with an imagination that has the ability to provide all the proof they need.

Skeptics look for proof so they can be convinced.  Fantasy prone people look for proof to convince others.  One Bigfoot hunter I work with claims he only goes out to prove to the world what he already knows. He’s in the Bigfoot hunting game just to stop people from teasing him about his claims of seeing Bigfoot.  He’s glad to share his many sightings with anyone that asks, but he is simply retelling what he believes actually happened to him.  One reason he is so convincing is that he is also a fireman and a community member of high standing.  ”Why would he make up such stories?” I am asked as the token skeptic of the local Bigfoot group.

The stories he tells, of Bigfoot gathered around a campfire or Bigfoot pushing his truck out of a ditch, are so over the top they sound crazy.  He doesn’t act crazy when he is fighting a fire, helping his daughter sell Girl Scout Cookies, or shoveling snow for his elderly neighbor.  He’s not crazy, so maybe his stories are real.  His stories have to be real for those that know him and care about him.  If his claims are not based on “something” he is “crazy”, and the possibility that someone “crazy” can appear to normal most of the time scares people.  There is no reason to be scared of most fantasy prone people.  They really do compartmentalize their life very well.

Now most Bigfoot hunters do not claim to have seen Bigfoots gathered around a campfire singing together.  Most UFO believers do not believe they see anywhere from 8-100 UFOs in one night.  People that are fantasy prone, have these very vivid experiences that they believe 100%.  They aren’t lying.  They just can’t seem to turn off whatever it is that make them experience things the rest of us don’t.  Betty Hill was a productive respected member of her community, had a job, went to college and did wonderful volunteer work.  But when it come to UFOs or other interesting paranormal phenomena she’s just had no “OFF” switch.

Betty Hill never tried to actually prove her abduction experience was real, or even the many UFOs she saw through out her life were real.  She knew they were real, though she did at times debunk the UFO and abduction claims of others. Indeed, it was often others that did the majority of work defending of her claims.  To this day UFO advocates such as Stanton Friedman are the ones still trying to convince the world that Betty Hill had alien interactions.  Mind you, UFO advocates tend to try to focus on  Betty Hill’s first abduction experience, and ignore her later thousands of UFO sightings.  No one ever mentions Betty Hill and her hunt for Bigfoot! Yes, she looked for Bigfoot in New Hampshire, much as I also look for Bigfoot in New Hampshire.  I have to say I have the disadvantage of having a skeptic ,rather than a fantasy prone, personality.

Among the papers at the UNH archive is what seems to be a speech Betty Hill has saved. The speech appears to hold an early written account of her abduction experience, before she and her husband were treated by Dr.Simon using hypnosis in 1963. ( Milne Special Collections, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, N.H)

I was surprised reading it that the writer of the speech seemed to be a fan of Dr.Carl Sagan.

The speech is entitled:

                                                                         UFOs

Tonight we will discuss UFO’s, also known as flying saucers.  The UFO is the abbreviation for unidentified flying objects.  At a recent meeting of the American Rocket Society in California, Dr.Carl Sagan, noted astronomer at the Univ. of Calif., said that he believes that the earth has probably been visited by creatures from advanced civilization from outer space. Moreover the earth may have been visited many times by various galactic civilizations, and a base may be maintained for such visits; the hidden side of the moon would be a reasonable location.

At this point, I was wondering if there was another Dr.Carl Sagan I had never heard of.  Perhaps a cousin, who also went into astronomy but never quite lived up to his more famous and skeptic relative.  The speech has other gems including:

In a Moon Exploration Conference last August Dr. Sagan, representing the Univ. of Calif. Astronautical Department, stated that organic life may exist beneath the moon’s surface.  He warned that US and Russian missiles might reduce the chance of our finding such a life. Previously he has stated that life may exist on the planet Jupiter.

This was news to me.  I wondered just how early Dr.Sagan had started writing science fiction.

Because of his extensive background and extensive research, Dr. Sagan’s opinions carry weight with many scientists.

This assures me the author knew who Dr. Sagan was, and it’s obvious the writer admires him.  The clue to this admiration comes later in the speech:

Dr.Sagan believes that UFO’s do exist, but he has not indicated what he considers their source.

So, Dr. Carl Sagan at one time was probably believed by Betty Hill to be a firm UFO believer.  He was on her side, he knew UFO’s were real, just like she did.

But was this just pure fantasy on the part of Betty and other UFO believers?  Not at all.  the author seems to have based their view of Dr. Carl Sagan on a speech he gave early in his career.

Sagan did speak to the American Rocket Society in 1962.  Sagan seems to have shared the Drake equation, about the possibility of other planets having life.  Sagan is quoted as saying:

“Let’s say that each of these civilizations sends out one
interstellar expedition per year,” he said.

“That means that every star, such as our sun, would be visited
at least once every million years. In some systems where these
beings found life, they would make more frequent visits.
There’s a strong probability, then, that they have visited
earth every few thousand years. “

“It is not out of the question that artifacts of these visits
still exist or even that some kind of base is maintained,
possibly automatically, within the solar system, to provide
continuity for successive expeditions.

“Because of weathering and the possibility of detection and
interference by the inhabitants of earth it would be preferable
not to erect such a base on the earth’s surface. The moon seems
one reasonable alternative.

“Forthcoming photographic reconnaissance of the moon from space
vehicles – particularly of the back – might bear these
possibilities in mind.”

Thisprobably seemed very pro UFO, or at least to Betty Hill and other UFO as aliens believers around 1962, as possibly being supportive of UFOs.

Sagan is asked if he believes in flying saucers and replies “I do believer there are objects that have not been identified.”

Sagan is at best open minded.  Certainly, in the early 1960′s the possibility of

Not a UFO

Not a UFO

alien space craft visiting the Earth was enough for the US government to investigate UFO sightings.  Project Blue Book, the Air Force run program to investigate reports of unknown flying objects ran from 1952-1970.  Dr.Sagan was not stating anything radical ,or out of line, with what many professionals and the public were speculating about themselves.

Later when Dr.Sagan became one of the most known scientists in the world, because of the popularity of the PBS series “Cosmos”, he was to let Betty Hill and other UFO fans down.  Andy admiration of him turned to disappointment.  Episode 12 has a brief recreation of the Betty Hill’s own well known, by this time, UFO abduction claim.  Instead of being supportive, Sagan proved to be just another closed minded non believer.  The reaction of Betty Hill and her friends was one of anger and derision.

One of my favorites has to be this bit from a letter by Betty Hill’s friend Stan Ferguson:

“ I didn’t realize that C. Sagan had made so many errors until playing the tape back. The UFO Incident was more factual. One would think that a documentary like Cosmos would be more factual than a Hollywood dramatization. I’m surprised that Sagan didn’t have you black and Barney white!”

(It should be noted the Hills were a bi-racial couple).

While we may wonder how Betty Hill could even assume for a moment Dr.Carl Sagan would support the Hill abduction as real, and aliens were visiting the Earth, we also aren’t fantasy prone.  To Betty Hill, her experience was real, so why wouldn’t Dr. Sagan agree?

Much like my Bigfoot hunting friend, who rarely has to hunt to find Bigfoot, the skepticism of others is a puzzle to him.  He knows what he has seen and experienced.  The ones to be pitied are those of us that haven’t his ability to see what is out there in the woods, or in Betty Hill’s case what is up there in the sky.

(Added note:  I want to be clear about this.  “Fantasy Prone” is used by the skeptic community, and it’s a term I’m not 100% happy with.  So I’ve decided to clarify.  I can’t prove that any fantasy prone person is NOT seeing and experiencing things I have not experienced myself.  It could be they have an ability to see and experience things the majority of people can not.  My friend that sees Bigfoot on a regular basis can not understand why the rest of us have so much trouble.  So, does this mean they do NOT see these things or that they do not exist?  No.  But most importantly it does not mean a fantasy prone person is crazy or a liar.  To them this is real, the rest of us need a bit more.  Also does it mean they did not see ONE REAL Bigfoot or have SOME real experiences? No.  It may mean only some of their experiences are perhaps more their personality than reality.  So does my friend see Bigfoot every trip to the woods, I doubt it.  Has he perhaps seen a Bigfoot, maybe, as some of his sightings are backed by foot print and other evidence. )

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15 thoughts on “Betty Hill, Not a Member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club

  1. Tahir Kamal says:

    skeptics are wrong ufos are real

  2. John says:

    fantasy prone people are the same as those who believe in a diety that controls the entire universe, they are delusional for believing without proof.

  3. […] Betty Hill, Not a Member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club (yankeeskeptic.com) […]

  4. […] Betty Hill, Not a Member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club (yankeeskeptic.com) […]

  5. Roger P. Glass says:

    Wow. You may have to eat crow on this one.

    You refer to a speech that Betty Hill supposedly gave before 1963. And in this pre-1963 speech, she claimed that Dr. Sagan spoke at a “recent” meeting of the American Rocket Society in California, asserting his own belief that aliens have visited the earth, may have a base, and it could reasonably be on the moon’s hidden side.

    Sure enough, see pp. 112-113 of an online copy of Flying Saucers-Serious Business, which was first published in 1966:

    https://archive.org/stream/flyingsaucersser00edwa#page/112/mode/2up

    Here Dr. Sagan is identified as a speaker at the December,1962 meeting of the American Rocket Society in Los Angeles, and as stating that aliens probably have visited the earth and established bases on the moon’s hidden side.

    I’m pretty sure that in 1966 Dr. Sagan was not yet an international or even national figure. And at the time he supposedly made this speech, he was only 28 years old.

    After he became famous, he always identified himself as a flying saucer skeptic. I’m not aware that he was ever confronted with this book, and asked if he made those supposed statements.

    I myself of course doubt that the Hills were abducted; I don’t put much stock in abduction claims. But I think that any objective person who looks at the right evidence will conclude that flying saucers probably are real.

    The U.S. Naval Institute is 140 years old, and based in Annapolis with Congressional permission (granted in 1936). It is not a flying saucer organization. Its bimonthly publication Naval History is not a flying saucer magazine.

    The October, 2004 issue of Naval History (http://www.usni.org/search/node/cosmic%20curiosity) includes an article entitled Cosmic Curiosity (http://www.ufocasebook.com/navy1952ufoincident.html), by Cmdr. Edward P. Stafford. Cmdr. Stafford was a career Naval Officer and a recognized naval historian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Enterprise_%28CV-6%29 – see notes 6 and 9 at the bottom). He was not a flying saucer researcher.

    This article relates a supposed 1952 flying saucer encounter. The reported objects are not ambiguous specks, lights, or fireballs. The only reasonable possibilities are that (1) Cmdr. Stafford was lying (2) his air crew was lying (3) they saw flying saucers.

    And there are100s/1000s of accounts in other sources, from people like Cmdr. Stafford and his air crew, of similar encounters.

  6. Roger P. Glass says:

    Double wow. I just read your post more carefully, and it turns out that I’m the one to eat crow. My apologies.

    I now realize that you have the speech itself, which I had never before seen, but have now (thanks to you) read for the first time. It seems that the book I cited was a little too sanguine about what Dr. Sagan actually said. Well done. Again, I apologize – to the late Dr Sagan as well.

    But as to flying saucers themselves, I stand by what I wrote. I believe that you will be impressed by the evidence I have cited. And I wonder why other flying saucer enthusiasts never refer to Cmdr. Stafford’s account.

    • kittynh says:

      No problem! I’m married to a Naval Officer, so I’m familiar with the Annapolis and the NIPress! I’m very open minded about flying saucers, and I think Sagan was far more open minded at one time about UFOs as “nuts and bolts” visitors than he later became. Looking at the many reports of the time, who would not be “open minded”? Even Rupplet of Project Blue Book was very optimistic at the end of his book about our finding out more information soon. I really wish that the UFO field would swing back toward the good old days of really hard investigation and taking time to find that small percentage really worthy of taking further notice. The whole “well, they visit spiritually” or the “I can talk to them psychically” shift is a problem for those of us that would rather focus on the serious investigative side. It’s almost too easy to say “The communicate with me, here buy my book.”, rather than interview witnesses, talk to experts in astronomy, find out what’s flying overhead via NASA’s website, and sometimes say “We know what that is.” I’ve heard UFO stories I can’t explain and are a mystery still, those are the ones I really want to know more about!

  7. Roger P. Glass says:

    Much thanks for your graciousness.

    In response to your point about further investigations, let me initially say that even though I do think flying saucers are real, nevertheless I see no point in further investigations by private parties, or in demanding either further government investigations or government disclosures. In short, there’s nothing we private individuals can do. Before I give my reasons for this conclusion, let me say the following.

    I myself do not necessarily take even all famous astronauts at face value as to flying saucers. For instance, I have no interest in what Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell have had to say on the subject.. But Cmdr. Stafford is a different matter.

    You and your husband being Navy and Navy spouse, I’d be interested to know whether you see any possible weaknesses in the Stafford incident that aren’t apparent to me, a civilian who has no real knowledge of the workings of the military.

    Maybe I’m giving Cmdr. Stafford too much credit, but to me his encounter is open and shut. Maybe you see reason for doubt that I am not able to discern.

    Cmdr. Stafford is the author of The Big E, which I believe is accepted as the definitive history of the carrier. I have read another of his books, Little Ship, Big War, online at openlibrary.org. The character of the man just speaks for itself. I can’t imagine that he lied about what happened at Greenland, or that he or the aircrew could have been that mistaken. I’m not being disingenuous; if I’m missing something, I’d really like to know.

    And there’s astronaut Deke Slayton’s account of his sighting, as an air force P-51 pilot, beginning at p. 49 of his autobiography online at Google books. It’s also very compelling.

    And there are the multitudes of other accounts from pilots and crews, military and commercial, and from radar operators.

    Now as to the reasons I promised.

    What can further investigations by private parties tell us anything that we don’t already know? We already have encounters which tell us that flying saucers almost certainly are real, but don’t tell us anything more that we’d like to know – where they’re from, how they get here, why they come, etc. How are more private investigations going to answer those questions? Just what else is there to investigate? We’re only going to keep getting additional compelling accounts establishing flying saucers’ presence.

    As to demanding either further government investigation or government disclosure, I think that the government already has been doing and will continue to do everything they can to investigate this matter, and that they aren’t going to tell us what, if anything, they’ve already found or will find. Here, in my opinion, is why. And what follows, after the first sentence below, indeed is all my own conjecture.

    The government started getting these reports from pilots, crews, and radar operators by (at least) the late 1940’s. It’s inconceivable that they wouldn’t have considered this to be a matter of the highest importance, and done everything they could to find out what was going on.

    They had to have concluded that if this truly was technology, it would give the first finder an unassailable military superiority over everyone else. No more mutually assured destruction – rather, we win, you lose.

    This would make the matter one of national security.

    And with matters of national security, you tell everyone else, friends and foes, as little as possible about what you do know, what you don’t know, and what you want to know. You want to get as much of the information as you can, you want to get it before anyone else, and ideally, you don’t want anyone else to get it at all.

    You therefore investigate as secretly as possible, as assiduously as possible, and with every means at your disposal.

    So of course the U.S. government took this in house, and never has disclosed, and never will disclose, anything it has discovered – if indeed there is anything to be discovered, and if in fact they have discovered anything. Probably there is some U.S. governmental unit, of which the public and most or all of the rest of the government are ignorant, that deals with the subject.

    Anyway, that’s what I think.

    And if you and/or your husband do have any thoughts as to why I shouldn’t be convinced by the Stafford account, please let me know.

  8. I have always loved the fact that the stereotype “Alien Grays” so entrenched in pop culture, are supposedly based on Betty and Barney Hill’s “Interrupted Journey”–but the popular image of the Grays (Large bald head, large slanted eyes, gray rubbery skin, tiny mouths, tiny or nonexistent nose) are based on the special effects for the TV movie, rather than the Hill’s description. (The only common point is gray skin–and the Hill’s aliens had large hook noses and long lank hair, among other differences.) What’s most amusing is how many self-described abductees seem to have met the TV version–it appears even space aliens watched the ABC movie of the week back in the 70’s, and adjusted their costuming accordingly…

  9. Roger P. Glass says:

    Fair enough.

    So what about the Stafford incident (mentioned above)?

    What about the Slayton incident (http://books.google.com/books?id=z_xE22Pp2P0C&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=deke+slayton+ufo&source=bl&ots=FuL1yFeo3Q&)sig=PTr1gj07sMwy2hQ4oTKz3SXVytY&hl=en&ei=MofpTPyFFYL-8AasnpGxDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&sqi=2&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=deke%20slayton%20ufo&f=true)?

    What about the COMETA Report?

    What about Leslie Kean’s book?

    (crickets chirping)

  10. Why aren’t you even curious as to why Sagan did such an about face in his own beliefs/calculations?

    • kittynh says:

      I’m not sure, because at one point he even met with Barney Hill. I think he was VERY open to alien visitation. Why did he change? Was he trying to make a name for himself early in his career? Perhaps. UFOs were new and a hot topic in the early 1960’s. Then, the space program took off and the search for life “out there” not just “visiting here” happened. Also the UFO movement became a bit more “fringe” when alien abduction took center stage. I admire Carl Sagan, but like many scientists he sought the public eye and had a good feel for publicity. My guess is, he was controversial a bit about UFOs early on (see my other post about him giving a very pro UFO talk) and then changed when the scientific community decided that UFOs and abduction were not things serious scientists should study.

  11. […] Betty Hill, Not a Member of the Carl Sagan Fan Club […]

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