Letter to the Editor

Presumably you saw the Nova abduction exposé after getting the copy of the postcard Nova sent me. They sent it as a courtesy for my answering an inquiry last August. Thankfully they used almost nothing as you probably noticed. They only devoted a few seconds to my observations about the influence of The Outer Limits on the Hill Abduction case [as discussed in "The Eyes That Spoke," The REALL News, Vol. 2, #7].

Why thankful? The few seconds felt like they had run their fingernails over a chalkboard. By some amazing media technology they managed to compress no less than five errors into a single line of narration!

They show the Bifrost alien and follow it by the alien from The UFO Incident, the T.V. movie about the Hills and their abduction. We hear the Outer Limits entity is "an alien with telepathic powers very much like those Barney and Betty Hill described after this broadcast."

  1. The Outer Limits alien was not telepathic. I quote the script:
    Judith: Can you read my mind… even through your… shield?
    Creature: No. I cannot read your mind. I cannot even understand your language. I analyze your eyes.
  2. Betty Hill’s alien also was not telepathic. It spoke English.
  3. Only Barney Hill described his alien after the broadcast. Betty did not.
  4. One falsely gets the impression Betty and Barney described their aliens together and identically when, in fact, they described them differently. Worse, we hear Betty giving the description giving the implication the resemblance to the Outer Limits alien involves her descriptions, when in fact it is Barney’s.
  5. The use of the clip from The UFO Incident is strategically wrong because the aliens are not accurate representations of what Barney drew. They are only loosely based on his drawing in The Uninterrupted Journey and the drawing done in collaboration with David Baker. In a 1978 interview Betty criticized the movie’s depiction of the physical appearance of the aliens. "They did not look like that. The real ones looked more human than their television counterparts." Their size and slenderness were also inaccurate.

Though I can grant I am likely over-focused on this and maybe nobody else will ever notice the screw-up, my imagination easily spun out potential consequences. Betty Hill will legitimately use points 2 and 5 to prove how skeptics distort the truth. Points 1 and 2 are so simple to understand and prove that any ufologist could use it to put down anyone parroting the Nova version of the resemblance claim. Telepathy is such a cliché in both ufology and science fiction it is also easy to dismiss as coincidence the Hill and Bifrost alien sharing this characteristic. Part of the virtue of the original argument was that speaking eyes is such an exotic mode of communication that it can’t be dismissed in this way. Even should any skeptic try to bring up the correct form of the claim, a believer will still gleefully throw the mistakes of the Nova version at him to show how skeptics have exaggerated the resemblance. Say bye-bye to "The Eyes That Spoke" as a useful argument about the cultural nature of abduction lore.

I tremble contemplating what more damage they would have done had more of my work been used. I don’t think it was a fluke, but a pattern of carelessness. Doubtless they don’t take the subject seriously and, as Nova really should be about science and not modern mythology, who can blame them?

For the record though, it was the first time I ever saw anything based on my work on T.V. Guys, the experience really sucks.

Martin Kottmeyer

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