Alien abduction is a familiar theme in popular culture. As described by those who claim to have experienced it, alien abduction (in this entry, abduction, for short) is the physical seizure, or kidnapping, of a human being by an extraterrestrial intelligent being. Since the advent of space exploration in the mid-20th century, the subject of abduction has waxed and waned in popularity as the focus of newspaper reports and magazine features, true confessions and science fiction, television documentaries and big-budget Hollywood movies, and millions of World Wide Web sites.

John E. Mack (1929–2004), the most authoritative scientist to study this subject (see “Research and Information”), called abduction a “phenomenon.” Using this nomenclature, Mack established abduction as a subject suitable for scientific study, and nothing more. By ...

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