Ian SampleStrange encounters of the alien kind have more to do with sleep disorders than little green men with a penchant for kidnapping, according to a study. A survey of people who believed they had had contact with aliens showed they were much more likely to experience sleep paralysis, a state where people are temporarily stuck between sleep and wakefulness and unable to move.
"When a person is in that state, they can see things and hear things and be convinced they're real," said Chris French, head of Anomalistic Psychology Research at Goldsmith's College, London. He added that often people will see bright lights and menacing figures and given the choice between truth and madness, many decide the experience was real.
Sleep paralysis itself was not enough to explain beliefs of alien encounters on its own, according to the survey. Most "experiencers" already had an interest in the paranormal, the survey found. They also had "dissociative tendencies", meaning they could be almost oblivious to their actions for periods of time.
The study was carried out by giving a questionnaire to 19 experiencers and 19 others with no belief in alien contact. Professor French will discuss the findings at a talk at the Science Museum's Dana Centre tonight. Many who claimed to have had close encounters described being taken by aliens only to be subjected to painful medical examinations aboard alien vessels. Prof French said: "It makes people feel special. These aliens have travelled across half the cosmos for them. It's just a shame they're not more careful with their probes."
Special Thanks To Christian Macé
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