Sunday, August 30, 2020

Unidentified’s 'Extraterrestrial Encounters' Episode: Robert Hastings’ Critique

Unidentified’s 'Extraterrestrial Encounters' Episode - Robert Hastings’ Critique

     Regarding my appearance in the final episode of the History channel’s Unidentified, Season Two, the show was fairly credible in my opinion, despite the unfortunate inclusion of psychologist Dr. Susan Clancy’s fallacious, uninformed commentary about the three abduction cases covered in the program.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

As I wrote in my 2019 book, Confession, I am a lifelong “experiencer” and have had multiple encounters with what I have concluded were non-human entities associated with the
Robert Hastings
By Robert Hastings
The UFO Chronicles
CONFESSION – Our Hidden Alien Encounters Revealed
UFO phenomenon. I kept this very personal secret hidden from public view for decades because I understood that to openly admit it would negatively impact my reputation as a reliable nuts-and-bolts investigator of UFO incursions at nuclear weapons sites during the Cold War era.

For example, although CNN live-streamed my September 27, 2010 press conference in Washington D.C.—during which seven U.S. Air Force veterans discussed witnessing UFO-related incidents at ICBM sites and nukes storage depots—the cable network would have undoubtedly declined to cover the event if I had candidly mentioned my apparent alien abductee-status in the press release that I sent out beforehand. (Or if I had mentioned that two of the veterans, Bob Salas and another individual whom I won’t identify, are experiencers as well.)

Most of us know that the media’s now-heightened interest in the UFO phenomenon is a relatively recent and rare development resulting from revelations in 2017, concerning the existence of a secret US Department of Defense UFO project at the Pentagon—the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP—and the related release of three videos of unidentified, ultra-sophisticated aerial craft encountered by US Navy pilots in 2004 and 2015. Consequently, serious, in-depth media coverage of the UFO/UAP subject is steadily becoming the rule rather than the exception. Even so, the alien abduction topic is still decidedly taboo for most journalists, as it is among the great majority of the American public, and is likely to be treated by the media with extreme skepticism and even outright derision.

Therefore, I believe that the History channel’s Unidentified series is to be commended for devoting at least one episode to the abduction phenomenon, even though they stumbled badly by not challenging Dr. Clancy’s deceptive, erroneous remarks regarding the specific cases covered in the show. Allow me to explain.

When I was invited to participate in the program, the producers asked me to suggest a few US Air Force veterans they might interview—persons who had already openly acknowledged having had alien entity-related experiences, who might also be willing to appear in the Extraterrestrial Encounters episode. So, I recommended that they approach former missile security policeman Mario Woods, retired ICBM-handling specialist Jeff Goodrich, and former Minuteman missile launch officer Bob Salas—all of whom are featured in Confession. For reasons known only to the producers, Salas did not appear in the show, even though he was interviewed at length by former AATIP director and Unidentified consultant Luis “Lue” Elizondo earlier this year.

Fortunately, Woods and Goodrich were allowed to present their entity encounter narratives in a fairly straightforward manner, although certain key elements in their stories were oddly omitted by the producers. This was true regarding my own account as well. Comparing notes following the program, it seemed to the three of us that a deliberate decision had been made to avoid mentioning aspects of our experiences that would have strengthened our argument that we had actually been physically confronted by alien beings and that our recollections of the events were not, therefore, merely based on false memories resulting from hypnosis, as Elizondo and Clancy speculated on camera.

In Mario Woods’ case, when I first interviewed him in August 2017—months before he underwent hypnosis—he told me that he recalled seeing “five or six” shadowy, small figures approaching his security police vehicle shortly after he and his team partner observed a huge spherical object hovering over an ICBM silo outside of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, in November 1977. At that moment, a terrified Woods heard a chorus of voices in his head, repeatedly saying “Do not fear.” Following the encounter, his team partner, Sgt. Michael Johnson, revealed to Woods that he too had heard the voices, saying “Do not fear” over and over, and that the words were not audible sounds but seemed to enter directly into his mind.

In other words, the two men independently experienced the same apparently telepathic message emanating from the approaching diminutive figures. Although Woods described this readily-remembered aspect of his encounter to the Unidentified producers, an aspect confirmed by Johnson shortly after the event, they chose not to mention it in the show, and instead allowed Dr. Clancy to unequivocally assert that abductees’ recollections about seeing aliens are only false memories inadvertently generated during hypnosis sessions. Once again, Woods told me about seeing the small figures approaching his vehicle, and of hearing their voices telepathically, months before he underwent hypnosis.

Furthermore, immediately following the encounter, Woods discovered two mysterious identical scars on his body—perfectly circular depressions exhibiting a small, centrally-located protuberance—which were also noted by medical staff at the Ellsworth AFB hospital, where he had been examined under orders from his Air Force squadron commander. Woods tried to show the scars to the Unidentified team sent to interview him but, as he told me, “They didn’t seem interested nor did they film them.” This baffles me and makes me wonder whether impartial reporting was the paramount objective on the part of the producers when presenting Woods’ account.

In the case of Jeff Goodrich, the episode did in fact include his on-camera comment about seeing small entities entering his bedroom and approaching his bed, at which point he was temporarily paralyzed. But then they allowed abduction skeptic Dr. Clancy to say in response, “That sounds exactly like a textbook case of sleep paralysis.” Whether or not Elizondo had mentioned to Clancy that a guest staying overnight at Goodrich’s house, who was sleeping in an adjacent room, also reported being paralyzed—at the exact same time—is unknown. If he did tell her, we didn’t see that in the program. Regardless, the neurological phenomenon known as sleep paralysis could not possibly have accounted for Goodrich’s inability to move, which occurred just as the small entities entered his bedroom, given that his house guest independently, simultaneously experienced the same unexplained paralytic effect. Unfortunately, the show’s producers let Clancy’s invalid pronouncement of “textbook sleep paralysis” go unchallenged. Very poor judgement on the part of someone!

Clancy further asserted that therapists often ask leading questions of persons under hypnosis, thereby inadvertently planting suggestions in their minds. Well, first, Jeff Goodrich’s memories of his entity encounter event were readily accessible the following morning and did not emerge via hypnotic recall later on, as Elizondo mistakenly told Clancy at one point. Actually, upon his retirement from the Air Force, Goodrich was ordered to sign a written statement, dictating that he never undergo hypnosis, for any reason, probably because he had handled nuclear missile launch codes during his career and held a Top Secret/Crypto clearance.

Furthermore, I can assure the reader that no—zero—leading questions were asked of Mario Woods or myself during our hypnosis sessions and I have the recordings of all of them to prove it. In fact, the producers were given the video of Woods’ hypnosis session and, therefore, had the opportunity to refute Clancy’s unfounded suggestion that he had been influenced by hypnotist Robert Upson’s style of questioning. But, for whatever reason, that did not happen. Consequently, Clancy was permitted to make her unequivocal, blanket statement implying that all abductees’ memories have been influenced by therapists’ leading questions. While I freely admit that this issue is potentially problematic in some cases, it was demonstrably not relevant to the specific cases covered in the program. Again, a very poor decision on the producers’ part not to refute Clancy’s off-base insinuation.

As for my own dramatic entity encounter experiences over the years, most were recalled without the use of hypnosis. However, regarding the August 13, 1988 incident that was presented in the show, I did eventually undergo hypnotic regression to attempt to learn more about the events in question—which occurred during a camping trip—after a number of strange, suggestive developments had already taken place, prompting my curiosity.

Specifically, on the night of the alleged abduction, multiple persons, including myself, witnessed the presence of an anomalous aerial craft—an unilluminated disc with two bright strobes, one on either end—rapidly moving away in the sky at very low altitude. That sighting was presented reasonably accurately in the Unidentified episode. However, more importantly—but not mentioned in the program—was the fact that one terrified member of our party was able to detect the object’s presence on the ground in the immediate vicinity of our tents, as it illuminated them and the surrounding trees and bushes with an intensity “as bright as daytime”, even though it was 3 a.m. when we all suddenly awoke to watch the object fly away. Further, another camper subsequently had a repetitive nightmare every night during the week following the outing, in which she saw three of the campers—a woman, her eight-year-old daughter, and me—walking single-file “like zombies” toward a brightly illuminated object sitting on the ground. Significantly, the young girl later recalled—without the use of hypnosis—the sensation of sleepwalking that night. These events were not mentioned in the show either.

In any case, given the intriguing developments noted above, I decided to explore the mysterious camping trip using hypnosis and eventually utilized the services of a very UFO-skeptical clinical psychologist, whom I won’t identify, who regressed me six times in 1992. As I said on-camera in the Unidentified episode, while under hypnosis I at one point recalled entering an extremely bright room with walls that curved into, and were inseparable from, the ceiling. What I also said to Elizondo, who interviewed me for the episode, was that directly in front of me I saw a metallic table with a short, Gray alien-type figure standing behind it. After a moment or two, the entity rushed at me and touched my head, at which point I apparently lost consciousness. But that important portion of my statement was not included the program, for whatever reason. (Just as Mario Woods’ key comments to the producers about remembering seeing aliens, both prior to being hypnotized and again during his session with Robert Upson, were not featured in the show. The producers only presented Mario, via voice-over, saying that at one point he felt as if he were immersed in a gel of some kind.)

Regardless, I emphasize again that at no time did my own therapist ask me any leading questions like, “Do you see anybody in the room with you,” as Dr. Clancy implied would have occurred, thereby tainting the data. And, once again, nor were such leading questions asked of Woods.

Summarizing, the reasonably credible “Extraterrestrial Encounters” episode is unfortunately compromised by errors of commission and omission. Nevertheless, I respect Lue Elizondo’s publicly-stated agnostic position on the abduction topic, as when he said, “There is no empirical way I can prove or disprove” the claim that some humans are being abducted by aliens. I have said much the same thing about my own experiences. Indeed, in my book Confession I noted that while unusual scars and retrieved implants (in some cases) are compelling, as are multiple, identical witness accounts that reinforce each other, they probably do not represent the type of irrefutable, verifiable evidence required by scientists. I fully understand this skeptical stance and regret that completely unimpeachable evidence for the reality of the abduction phenomenon seems to remain perpetually elusive. But this does not mean that the issue won’t be unequivocally proven one day.

However, if it were the intention of the Unidentified producers to try to raise valid questions about self-described alien abductees’ claims, if only for the sake of balance, they should have interviewed someone who is actually scientific in their approach to analyzing the problem, which Dr. Susan Clancy clearly is not. In my opinion, her fallacious position, which may be characterized as, “It can’t be, therefore it isn’t”, is downright embarrassing, except to other irrational debunkers. She seems to think that bragging that she has a Ph.D. from Harvard University when spouting her pseudoscience in public somehow makes the foolishness she promotes more credible.

A scathing but factually-accurate analysis of Clancy’s unacknowledged personal biases and fatally flawed research methodology regarding the alien abduction phenomenon may be read here.


  1. Greetings Mr. Hastings. I was curious if the hypnosis session with Mario Woods is publicly available to review? Completely understandable if not, but wanted to inquire. Thank you for your continued work and all you've done for the UFO research community. Best, Ryan Sprague

  2. Mr Hastings, I really appreciate your contributions to the field.
    I too was disgusted by the way they included a completely unscientific opinion from someone like Clancy. That alone destroyed the credibility of this season.
    Most Sincerely,

  3. Their main goal is to gradually move the public to accept that aliens are here and have been for a long time, so no need to panic. Abduction confirmation would cause total panic. Like The Invasion Of the Body Snatchers.

  4. I am very glad I was able to find your personal response to the episode featuring your appearance from the show.

    Like you, I have always been a truth seeker above all else. We are willing to go where the evidence leads, and at the very least will entertain every coherent possible explanation.

    As you hint at from the beginning of this article, other people are not so focused on the truth itself. People can be interesting in this (or any other) subject, but then feel the need to tune out when things get uncomfortable. Perhaps a big part of the reason the public in general is so reluctant to even look at UFO phenomena seriously is precisely because it is scary.

    I think the producers of this show are well aware of these issues. As far as I can tell, the greater function of this show is to slightly raise public awareness to the UFO phenomena (to what end remains to be seen). Specifically, in a way which increases credibility (as opposed to, say, Ancient Aliens which raises awareness but decreases credibility).

    I suspect that any omissions are intentional such that the more timid aren’t scared off before they can take in enough palatable evidence to at least be open minded. For what it’s worth, it seems to be working to a degree. Over the course of its two seasons, my very skeptical girlfriend has gone from “It can’t be true so I don’t believe any of it”, to “It is almost definitely not aliens, but I believe that people are experiencing something.” A small step, but in the right direction.


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