French UFO Abductions: Far Too Few? | Ron Westrum

French UFO Abductions: Far Too Few?

Ron Westrum

Department of Sociology

Eastern Michigan University

A crucial test for the reality of UFO Abductions is that one would expect that there would be a relatively even distribution across the inhabited world. In other words, if abductions represent real events, they should not favor any particular human-inhabited geographical area. In this regard, France could pose a crucial test, since it has lots of ufologists but (apparently) not many abductions. A recent talk presented in July 2014 at a CNRS conference reflected on this scarcity. By contrast, some American researchers believe that abductions are not rare in the USA, and may be as frequent as one in fifty persons (or even more common). Are Americans simply more suggestible?

The number of recognized abductions that one would expect, however, depends critically on the model of reporting that one chooses. The usual model is a “percolation” one. In the percolation model, the known “hidden events” are simply a constant fraction of the total [real] hidden events, and they percolate upward into social consciousness at a constant rate. In reality a constant rate is extremely unlikely. The rate of reporting, the rate of transmission of reports, and the rate of publication of transmitted reports are all variable parameters. They dynamically respond to the “demand conditions” operating at various levels in society. For instance, in reporting of the “battered child syndrome” percolation previous to the controversy transmitted merely hundreds of reports to police and hospitals. After social awareness was aroused, and channels for reporting were created, the numbers of battered children appeared to be in the hundreds of thousands. Similar remarks could be made about the ostensible number Catholic priests sexually abusing children in the USA, and how it depended on changing media attention, thus altering reporting and publication parameters.

Therefore, a second “interactive” model needs to be invoked. In the case of the USA, several authors wrote abduction books and carried out extensive radio and television interviews. These books and interviews led ostensible “abductees” to contact and write letters to the authors, which were used in turn as ammunition to swell the database, made the phenomenon seem more real, and in turn more “reportable.” As far as I can tell, however, nothing similar happened in France. There were no local abduction experts who wrote books, few American experts appeared on French media, and therefore there has been little encouragement for reporting by potential French abductees. This in spite of Jacobs’ book (and others) being translated into French. So the “demand conditions” for abduction reporting do not exist in France. The only way this question can be resolved is by direct inquiry (e.g. surveys) in France itself.

Prof. Ron Westrum [B.A. Harvard (honors) 1966 (Social Relations); Ph.D. University Chicago 1972 (Sociology)] is emeritus Professor of Sociology, Eastern Michigan University, where he has taught for 42 years, in addition to visiting positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Hawaii, and Stavanger (Norway). He is a specialist in the sociology of complex organizations, creativity, and system safety, and has often participated in national and international symposia on such. He has consulted on organizational creativity and organizational dynamics for many large organizations, such as Lockheed Space Systems, General Motors, and the RAND corporation. He was a founding member of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and former sociological consultant for the Mutual UFO Network. He is best known for his classification of corporate cultures into pathological, bureaucratic, and generative. He has three books, and numerous articles in the fields indicated.

Recorded at the 34th annual SSE Conference in 2015 at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville hotel.

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Published on November 20, 2018