Water E.B.E.s

by Martin Kottmeyer

Summarizing the structure of alien abduction experiences in 1987, Budd Hopkins mentioned what now seems a puzzling lacuna in his understanding of what is now termed "the hybrid program." Some women have their ova removed from the Fallopian tubes, presumably fertilized, then "brought to term outside the womb, under circumstances one can barely guess at." (Intruders, p. 196) Nobody has to guess anymore. Several abductees have come forward to reveal what those circumstances are.

The earliest source of this information is one of the centerpieces of extraterrestrial biological entities (E.B.E.)-lore that sprung up in the Eighties: The Dulce Papers of Paul Bennewitz. These papers describe an underground facility the government gave to E.B.E.s in a secret agreement. Among the papers are drawings of "baby creatures" in an amber liquid seen by an abductee, Myrna Hansen, who claimed to be taken there in May 1980. The beings are submerged in the fluid with dozens per artificial womb and scores or hundreds of tanks with beings at different stages of development. One shows a gray laying in a clear rectangular incubator submerged in a clear liquid. Another, drawn in a different style, shows an older gray floating in an amber fluid in a five-foot glass tube.

I don't know when the Dulce papers were first drafted and circulated. He was showing them to ufologists and abductees long before general publication. A transcript of an 1984 interview with Bennewitz indicates they were around by then. By the late Eighties and early Nineties they had been reprinted in several publications. E.B.E.-lore was derided by many investigators and Hopkins very probably chose to ignore this source of information if he knew of it back in 1987.

The next to testify was Betty Andreasson Luca in her regression of 19 November 1987. She describes seeing the aliens removing a fetus from another woman in a scene clearly identical to that in Hopkins' book Intruders which had been in bookstores earlier that summer. Later she sees a baby lying in liquid in a glass case. The case sits before a wall of glass cases filled with plants and things. Symbols are visible. This seems like a specimen room in the style of a saucer room in Hangar 18 (1980). In a different drawing we see a different container, a clear cylinder with a fetus suspended upright in fluid and held in place by straight wires anchored in the ears and the top of the head. No umbilical cord is present and the mouth and nose were covered. How could it live? A professional biologist admitted the situation looked puzzling to him and Raymond Fowler is driven to speculate it is a temporary unit to house and transport the fetus in suspended animation till it reached an artificial womb. (The Watchers, 1990, pp. 20-30.) It may be relevant to note the Dulce papers indicated aliens could absorb nourishment like a sponge by placing their hands in blood. Though still odd biologically, such lore would lend a logic to the nature of her drawing.

By 1992's Secret Life, the circumstance of the ectogenesis of hybrids are known so well they are diagrammed into David Jacobs' "Common Abduction Scenario Matrix." He gives the testimony of three abductees -- James Austino, Karen Morgan, and Anita Davis -- as examples of what is being seen. The fetuses may be either upright in a liquid solution or lying down in dry or liquid conditions. As many as 50 to a 100 fetuses are seen in the incubatorium. Austino describes a wall of fish tanks with blue liquid and bubbling going on. The little alien is attached to wires. Anita Davis speaks of bubbling fish tanks filled with a viscous fluid. The little fetus is plugged into a cord that provides food or something. In May 1992 the Intruders TV mini-series aired and reflects the advance of lore. We are shown fetuses in a fish tank despite their absence in the Intruders book that inspired it.

John Mack's book Abduction (1994) also contains testimony about incubatoriums. "Jerry" sees a "real tiny, skinny" baby floating in a clear plastic cylinder. The aliens apparently want her to feel proud of their accomplishment with her baby. "Why would they do this?" she asked. Later she sees hundreds of rectangular incubators with fetuses. "Catherine" also sees an incubatorium stacked floor to ceiling with plastic cases of little deformed humanoids submerged in water. Her drawing of the scene is included in Mack's book. Mack expresses puzzlement over the hybrid program with respect to how the fetuses seem too frail. They are "hardly vital stock to perpetuate the human or any other race." In response, "Jerry," in a more recent abduction, describes "beautiful young adult hybrids with porcelain skin." Another abductee insists the hybrids don't look listless to him, but have a unique vitality.

The emergence of this testimony about incubatoriums is all suspiciously new. Thomas Bullard's meticulous analysis of 270 abduction and abduction-related cases up to 1985 shows no mention of incubatoriums. The closest seems to be "South Dakota Connection" who saw bins of cork-like chips and literally hundreds of "unfinished little people all over the room." Preparation for a grand deception? But why give us such a clue at all? There are also cases of abductees themselves encased in fluid, but they probably trace to the 1972 "Ordeal" episode of the TV series U.F.O. which in turn was probably inspired by Leland Clark's 1965 experiments on breathable fluids like FX-80 also known as perfluorocarbons. (Dr. Ron Holtz, "Perfluorocarbons and the Breathing Pool", The Ufologist, April-June 1994, pp. 5-7.) While some might suggest this testimony demonstrates a new openness on the part of aliens, the fact exists that there were plentiful instances of abductees being given tours of saucer interiors in the period studied by Bullard. Nor can we assume the incubatorium program is new. Betty Andreasson Luca backdates her experience to 1973. Shouldn't someone have testified before given how frequently it is seen now?

One notable precursor to these accounts of "real" alien incubatoria exist in the marvelously odd foreign film Humanoid Woman (1981). The film opens with astronauts entering a large circular spacecraft that had suffered an accident months earlier. Spindly humanoids with impressive eyes are drifting around lifeless. As the camera pans around we see a pair of glass cylinders which each contain an embryo floating in an upright attitude. Inside are a tangle of wires attached at places like the ears and the top of the head. Unlike the Betty Andreasson Luca drawing, these wires are not straight and clearly not being used as support. The explorers eventually conclude this spacecraft was a cloning laboratory because they found identical beings at different stages of development. They were "test-tube creatures" evidently grown in vitro.

Clones were an occasional item in the UFO lore of the Seventies such as the 1975 Sun Classic schlockumentary The Outer Space Connection and the Brian Scott case, not to mention certain crash-retrieval whisperings. It might be wondered if it could have been a natural development to weave material from this film into later cases. It's quite an obscure film however and I can't say the similarities compel the assumption of influence. The setting was unusual, but the image assuredly was not. Images of babies being grown outside the womb has been a common futuristic notion discussed in influential feminist tracts like The Dialectic of Sex and journalistic scribblings over the trends of reproductive technology represented by laporoscopy, in vitro fertilization, surrogate parenting, fertility drugs and so forth.

Susan Merrill Squier in her recently published book Babies in Bottles: Twentieth Century Visions of Reproductive Technology (Rutgers University Press, 1994) has assembled a history of this popular image or icon with its drifting ideological connotations. She traces the image all the way to 1863 and the Charles Kingsley children's story The Water Babies, a morality tale laced with themes from the embryology and zoology of that time. Squier documents Julian Huxley's interest in the story as a youth and his conscious use of it as a popularizer of science. The idea of babies growing outside the womb became termed "ectogenesis" and was a subject of debate by notable thinkers like J.B.S. Haldane, J.D. Bernal, Eden Paul, Norman Haire and Vera Brittain in the 1920's. Eugenics was ascendant with its hopes and fears about how man may shape his biological future. Some liked the idea of ectogenesis; others thought it abhorrent then, as now.

Ectogenesis was permanently established as a cultural icon when T.H. Huxley's brother, Aldous, opened his masterpiece Brave New World (1921) with a fictional visit, 600 years hence, to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Eggs are fertilized and subjected to "bokanovsky's process" yielding on average 96 identical embryos. Standardization of form contributes to the stability of this future society. The eggs are transferred from test tube to bottles, labeled, and transferred to the moist cellar where can be seen "bulging flanks of row upon receding row and tier above tier of bottles." The hum and rattle of machinery faintly stirs the air. The bottles move on slow conveyors, periodically injected with various extracts. The trauma of decanting proceeds and we are informed that the lower worker castes are given less oxygen to inhibit brain growth. "At 70% of normal oxygen you got dwarfs." After decanting the developed humans are conditioned for their future jobs, "their unescapable social destiny."

Brave New World is required in many colleges, an established member of the Westran Canon. Mentioning it is to invoke the horror of a future "dystopia" of regimentation, less nasty than 1984 to be sure but something that all understand should be avoided. Huxley considered making a movie out of it back in 1945, but RKO had tied up the rights to it and wanted too much money in the resale. While negotiating, Huxley mentioned to a friend that he feared the film might be censored in a key place. "One practical point worries me. What will the Hays office say about babies in bottles? We must have them, since no other symbol of the triumph of science over nature is anything like as effective as this. But will they allow it?" (Squier, p. 153.)

This symbolic function of ectogenesis has not changed. Babies under glass would be a technological trophy showing how science has so mastered nature that the mystery of life itself will have been ripped from the womb. You can be assured inventors will continue to aim for this goal, if only under the excuse of circumventing the emotional ties of gestation connected to surrogate parenting. Some doubt it will ever be practical or affordable. I'm less doubtful on that point than what ectogenesis will look like. Transparent hard cylinders and aquariums with submerged embryos have been imaged so much they seem the obvious route. Harlow's experiments proving the need of tactile stimulation in growing primates provides at least one reason for thinking ectogenesis would require a more organically enveloping form. Even if there are ways around this problem with fancy neurochemistry, my intuition is that alien incubators are too close to expectations of the current imagination and unlike the compromises and surprises that tend to pop up in high tech projects. Compare the rocketry of SF pulps to the rich complexity of the vehicles in the Apollo moon landing enterprise to see what I'm getting at.

Mack's display of Catherine's drawing of the alien incubatorium is ironic in some ways. It bears a caption that begins "All beings in the tank were identical..." Mack speaks of the UFO abduction phenomenon striking at the heart of the Western paradigm, denying its sense of mastery and power and a material view of reality. Yet, as Huxley's comment indicated, what would more celebrate the hubris of materialism than showing future science will master the very secrets of life. What could be more Western than assembly-line embryos? Could anything less affirm Eastern life-connectedness and holism than saying ectogenesis-genesis is plausible and desired by higher beings in the universe? The alien abduction vision is far less a threat to Western thought than a carnival house reflection of its dreams and nightmares.

[Martin Kottmeyer, a frequent contributor to The REALL News, is a writer living in Carlyle, Illinois. His article, "The Eyes That Spoke," which was first published in this newsletter, recently was reprinted in Skeptical Briefs, the CSICOP newsletter.]

{Appearing with this article in the hardcopy version of the newsletter was an illustration from Kingsley's The Water Babies. If you don't want to miss future illustrations, be sure to fill out the membership form at the end of this file and send it in!}

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