Thoughts on Budd Hopkins
By Peter Robbins
“I think that the reader is entitled to know about this part of my background prior to hearing anything I may have to say about the recent multipronged allegations leveled against Budd by his former wife Carol Rainey. Some may feel my experience has given me a particularly unique insight into Budd’s work, professional ethics, and the man himself.”
It was February of 1975 when my sister Helen first talked to me about her very conscious memories of a childhood UFO abduction experience. The circumstance which triggered it was my decision to ask her what she remembered about the UFO sighting we had had together as children. Her insistent account shocked me more than anything we had ever discussed and I wanted desperately not to believe it. However, given the fact that we had always been very close and quite devoted to each other, I knew as well as I could know that she was telling me the truth as best she remembered it.
Overnight my life took an extremely abrupt turn. I went from actively pursuing my dream of being a professional painter and almost complete immersion in the New York City art world, to someone obsessed with trying to reconcile what had happened to their sister and learning all I could about the phenomena behind it. In the mid seventies the serious study of UFO related abductions was still some years away, and with the rarest exceptions, completely absent from the world of talk shows, documentaries or the news. Perhaps it was the fact that as artists we already saw ourselves as outsiders of a sort, but neither of us chose to hide our growing interest in the subject. Helen was willing to talk about her all too conscious childhood memories with friends and family in a frank and open manner, and I began to read UFO books one after another as their disc shapes increasingly came to dominate my paintings, drawings and small sculptures. I even made two new friends, then a third who shared my growing interest.
In 1976 the weekly newspaper The Village Voice published a surprisingly serious and well written article about a UFO incident which had occurred a year earlier, just across the river in New Jersey. There was no way I could have known, but it was Budd’s first article on the subject. I was surprised to learn that it had been written by a fellow painter, and with uncharacteristic impulsivity, I cold called him once I’d completed the article. The upshot of this was an invitation to come by for coffee which I did a few days later. This was how I met Budd Hopkins.
I knew that The School of Visual Arts (where I was a painting instructor) was always on the lookout for interesting speakers and in 1977 Budd and I were invited to give our first ever UFO talks together for their student body on the stage of the SVA auditorium.
We remained in regular contact as we developed our respective research and investigations over the next five years, a time which saw the research community continue to focus its collective attention on the UFOs themselves, this while Budd quietly began his study of the intelligences themselves, and of their abduction related interactions with human beings. Missing Time was the result of this study and was published in 1981. It established Budd as the leading figure in this fledgling area of investigation and public reaction to this book changed his life forever. Readers who knew, remembered or suspected that they had had experiences similar to those described in Missing Time began to call and write - for advice, for an appointment, or because they knew that here was someone who would actually listen to their accounts and fears without automatically dismissing them as delusional or worse. Most difficult of all, they would call and write to tell him what they feared was happening to their children as well as to themselves. Budd met with as many of these people as possible, even to the extent that his personal time became less and less his own.
I began working for Budd in the early 1980s. My assignments changed from visit to visit depending on what needed attention and included straightening up in the studio, fielding calls, taking messages and running errands, filing and logging in recorded interviews as well as the endless audiocassettes he continues to employ in recording every hypnotic regression he has conducted. My responsibilities expanded to ultimately include fact checking, proof reading, investigation, reading and responding to letters, meeting and interviewing possible abductees, attending most support group meetings and witnessing hypnotic regressions.
I’ve begun this tract in the manner I have because I think that the reader is entitled to know about this part of my background prior to hearing anything I may have to say about the recent multipronged allegations leveled against Budd by his former wife Carol Rainey. Some may feel my experience has given me a particularly unique insight into Budd’s work, professional ethics, and the man himself. Others may hold that, given my open respect and admiration for him, I am subject to a bias in his favor, or worse, that I might be more concerned with my own place and standing in this matter and as such seek to make the facts conform to a kinder or more idealized characterization then is necessarily true. To such people I can only say that over the thirty plus years I’ve been involved in this field as an investigator, researcher, writer, public speaker and author, I have prided myself on working without an agenda from case to case and have always put the truth of what I’ve been able to uncover or establish before anything else. I have never lied in my work and writing or knowingly misrepresented the work of anyone else and have no intention of beginning to do so now, for Budd Hopkins or for anyone else.
The comments which Carol has leveled against Budd call into serious question his character, objectivity, motives, and methodology as well as the validity of the UFO abduction phenomenon itself. She has also chosen to use this opportunity to attack the credibility and motivations of Linda Cortile, an abductee who was the subject of one of Budd’s most significant investigations.
Undermining Abduction Studies
In all of the years I’ve known Carol I have never once heard her express the opinion that the abduction phenomenon itself might be specious or that a healthy percentage of the alleged abductees themselves were faking their experiences or memories. However, one of the bombs she drops in her piece is that she now feels that abduction studies and accounts are “afloat with hoaxes.” To the best of my knowledge nothing is actually further from the truth and this has been reflected in the work of every serious abduction researcher and published study I have read or am aware of. In fact the incidence of hoaxing is all but nonexistent. Of course such things have occurred, as have errors among sincerely motivated investigators including Budd, Dr. David Jacobs, and the late Dr. John Mack – who by the way administered standard psychological testing to alleged abductees and found that the incidence of pathology or duplicity among them was absolutely identical to the results shown in similar tests administered to the public at large. Suggesting that the field is rift with hoaxers is simply not true.
Methodology, Ethics and Motivations
Carol suggests that in the Brooklyn Bridge abduction case (alternatively known as The Linda Case), Budd and Linda cooked up her lifelong history of abductions as a way to make a fast (or maybe not so fast) buck via a movie deal to be based on selling the option to Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions. This would be laughable to me if it wasn’t so infuriating. I happened to have been in the office on the day Linda first visited Budd to discuss her fragmented but conscious memories of her abductions, this in late December 1989, and assisted Budd throughout the long investigation which followed – Witnessed was published in 1996.
For me, Linda was and remains as authentic as they come and never once have I felt that guile was her motivator.
Almost every author of a book which has the potential to be made into a film would like to see this outcome, myself very much included, and at a certain point in the development of Witnessed Budd and Linda sat down and drew up an agreement which would govern her sharing in the profits of such a venture, should it ever come to pass. That was it. To suggest that this somehow be interpreted as the basis of a concocted abduction history is just not true and I am surprised that Carol resorts to such an underhanded suggestion.
And relative to being motivated by money, the reader should be aware that out of the more than seven hundred individuals who have undergone hypnotic regression with Budd - many of whom have been regressed on numerous occasions - he has never once asked any of them for any sort of payment whatsoever. This includes the hundreds of additional people who Budd has given uncounted hours of his time to, in his office, at conferences, or while visiting them in their homes. Hopkins addresses his own methodology and ethics better than I could ever do in his newly published article, Deconstructing the Debunkers: A Response which everyone concerned with this debate should certainly read.
Continue Reading Part II: Undermining the Linda Cortile Witnessed Case; Hypnosis: Ethical or Manipulative?; The Women’s Issue, and Helen “Wheels” Robbins.
This article is published with the expressed written permission of Peter Robbins for publication on The Alien Jigsaw: alienjigsaw.com