Food for thought.....?

James Randi --- Wizard (
Tue, 8 Aug 1995 08:27:52 -0400

Could it be?

It's no secret that Whitley Strieber, the author of a current crop of
best-selling "UFO abduction" books, the premise of which is eagerly supported
and endorsed by Harvard professor-with-tenure John Mack, is by primary
profession a writer of fiction, in particular, of science-fiction. I believe
that fact tends to cast a shadow on his claim that the abduction tales are
factual. I speak now for those of us who might harbor a certain disbelief in
accounts by middle-aged matrons and tipsy fishermen of their being whisked off
to Venus by aliens who, it seems, are totally obsessed with the genitalia of
these kidnap victims, though those very distressed experimental subjects delight
in appearing on Oprah and The Other Side to describe the dreadful ordeals. In
lingering detail.

My public library always has a huge table of extra or discarded books for sale
($1 is an irresistible price!) and I am frequently drawn to it. Yesterday I
noticed a book there by Strieber and a co-author, one that was published back in
1984, perhaps to take advantage of the Brave New World/Apocalypse tastes of that
period. It is titled "Warday," and relates the story of an atomic cataclysm and
the survival of a limited percentage of the world's population. It's written
like a diary, and the first chapter is even called "Whitley's tale."

The book jacket describes it as "A work of fiction that reads like fact...," and
says that the authors are "well-versed in the scientific and technological
data...." needed to create such a story.

One wonders whether the effect of this book 11 years ago might have suggested to
Mr. Strieber that if he produced another such, and promoted it as a true
account, there might be an improved market for it. He certainly is capable of
presenting a convincing case, and just might have done so in his popular series
of books that are now saturating the talk- and interview- shows on both radio
and TV.

Or am I just being an alarmist?

The recent Larry King "balanced" discussion of the abduction codswollop offered
viewers the indominable Phil Klass as the major objector to the premise, and
gave him many seconds of air-time to present his views. I agree with Phil that
this group of terrified abductees constitutes a cult, and I believe it to be one
that was created by the Strieber books -- and others -- to feed and perpetuate
the popularity of those books.

These folks have much growing up to do.
James Randi.


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