Fourth Kind

the_fourth_kind

Not too long ago I was having a discussion with some friends of mine about the “supernatural.”  I was extremely surprised by how many of them honestly believed in ghosts, bigfoot, etc.  These are people that are very sharp in other aspects of their lives, but apparently haven’t applied it to analyzing claims like that.  Either that or they just have a blind spot when it comes to para-normal stuff.  The conversation eventually focused on every conspiracy fan’s favorite, extra terrestrials. “Do aliens exist?”

Now I tend to believe along the same lines as most self described skeptics.  Given the vastness of just the known universe, let alone the stuff so distant we’ll never see it, it seems pretty unlikely that our planet is the only one where the amino acids lined up in just the right way to kick start the process.  In the words of the inimitable Carl Sagan,

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society“There are a lot of places out there, the molecules of life are everywhere, I use the word billions, and so on. Then I say it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial intelligence, but of course there is as yet no compelling evidence for it.”

However, once again there is a difference between the American vernacular and the precise language of rationalists.  If you ask the average person on the street if they think “aliens exist,”  to them that question means “do you think intelligent beings from elsewhere in the universe have and do visit our planet?”  My answer to that is a resounding No.

ufo-masterlockEven without a deep analysis of the (extremely) flawed “evidence” of alien visitation, simple common sense can put most of it to rest by turning the question around.  If we were an interstellar space faring race, and we found an alien civilization that was just beginning to explore outside their planet, how would we approach them?  There are a lot of possible answers, but none of the claims made by UFO believers sound like an effective way to go about it.  I could spend a lot of time on this, but that’s not the purpose of this post.

The conversation we were having drifted to a movie that came out in 2009 called “Fourth Kind.”  This movie purported to be a documentary about a psychologist that used hypnosis to help some people in Alaska remember being abducted by aliens.  The film moved back and forth between an admitted dramatization of the events being described and “actual footage” of the hypnosis sessions.  The production company went all out with creating fake websites and planting fake news articles to try to build hype that the whole thing was real.  mgid-uma-content-mtvIn fact, the entire movie starts with Milla Jovovich dramatically walking up to the camera and saying “everything you’re about to see is real, but what you believe is yours to decide.”

Just based on the description I was ready to call BS on a number of points.  However, I respect these guys and they insisted that I should watch it for myself to find out.  So I thought, what the hell?  Why not?  I pulled up my favorite torrent client (I wasn’t about to pay for it), and downloaded a copy.  Got some popcorn and sat down to watch.  Here is my e-mailed response to them after seeing it.  If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend it.  But only in the same way I recommend seeing any hilariously bad movie, perfect for making running wise-cracks a-la MST3K.

____________________________

Watched it.  Still gotta disagree with you, guys, sorry.

Salient points (based on what you were saying convinced you it’s true):

the-fourth-kind-abigail-tyler11) It’s not “actual archived footage.”  Dr Abigail Tyler is completely fictitious.  Nobody by any other name did any studies like what was portrayed in the film.  The Alaskan licensing board has no record of any of this.  Not to mention that if it were actual footage that this Dr was comfortable releasing to Universal, what’s the likelihood that she sat on it for years and never released it to any news groups or even put in on Youtube?  This just isn’t credible.

BTW….the “actual” Dr Tyler they portray (the non- milla jovovich one) is an actress named Charlotte Milchard http://www.charlottemilchard.com/

2) Even if it were real, the entire concept of Hypno-regression therapy is bunk and doesn’t work as displayed by hollywood (this movie especially).  Dr Elizabeth Loftus is a very real and very famous Psychologist that studies memory and has spent a lot of time on the idea of using hypnosis to “remember” things.  Hypnosis is real, but it doesn’t allow you to “remember” things…in fact the suggestible state actively encourages the creating of false memories.  Her research has been pretty damning to a lot of cases of “Child Molestation” where it’s being discovered that testimony drawn from hypno-regression turn out to be completely untrue and is getting innocent guys locked up.  A short sample: http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm

drunk3) The FBI did have an unusual amount of interest in missing persons in Nome, but nothing to do with Alien Abduction.  Turns out that of all the massive costal towns (and therefore commercial hubs), Nome is one of the very few “Wet” ones with legal bars and liqueur stores.  “Wet” towns surrounded by swaths of “dry” counties have a documented tendancy to have WAY more problems with alcohol related accidents and crimes.  Couple that with the outragiously cold climate and you have a recipe for drunk morons losing themselves in the snow.  It’s frankly very surprising that it isn’t more prevalent than it is.    As to FBI involvement, the only reason they came in the first place is that the local townspeople called them and asked them to come because the local Police had very publicly bungled their own investigations.

4) The whole “hostage” scenario didn’t happen.  Pure fiction, pure hollywood.  Even a basic 911 call has tons of records, let alone a hostage situation, and there’s nothin’

5) The “real” websites that supposedly back up the claims that the movie is real are fake.  Well, I mean they were actually websites, but they’re not what they claim to be.  The article supposedly written by Nancy McGuire in the “Nome Nugget” about Dr Tyler moving to Nome is fake.  There is a real journalist named Nancy McGuire, and she sued universal for using her name without permission.  Got a $20,000 settlement.  There’s a slew of examples like that.  The whole thing was part of a viral marketting campaign in the form of an “alternate reality” game type of strategy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game
This genre was heating up at the time and apparently the film makers (or at least the marketing dept) thought it would lend credibility to the claims that the movie is real.  “What you believe is yours to decide”  Nope.  That’s a well known trick of cranks and snake-oil-salesmen right before they launch into an elaborate “demonstration” to get you to buy their bogus product.

pencil6) The ancient Sumerian thing is sort of real…but not really.  There really is a guy named Zecharia Sitchin that claims artifacts like that tell stories of “ships like Apollo”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zacharia_Sitchin
Unfortunately, there are very few people that read that language, and ALL of the others completely disagree with the translation and think he’s a crank.  In fact, we have ancient dictionaries of that language put together by the people that spoke it!  None of their own definitions mean what this guy claims they mean.  It’d be like someone 3000 years from now reading our documents and claiming that when we write “Pencil” we actually mean “godlike figure that created the universe.”  They’re just bad translations and he’s published 12 books full of misinformtation.
http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/sitchinerrors.htm#intro

7) The families of the actual missing people got REALLY upset about this movie.  They didn’t think any of it had to do with aliens and were pissed that hollywood folks were trying to make money of their personal tragedies while having the gall to claim that it’s “real.”

I’ve got sources to back all of this up if you want, though most can be found just by googling “Fourth Kind Fake.”  The discussion about extra terrestrial life can be an interesting one, but this movie has nothing to do with that discussion.  It’s just not connected to reality.

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