SciFi.com Chat with Dr. John Mack


An online text-based “live chat” with Dr. Mack hosted by the SciFi Channel’s website in 2002 during the promotion of the Steven Spielberg-produced mini-series “Taken”.

SCIFIMOD: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us here. I’m Ben Trumble for SCIFI. Tonight we’re pleased to welcome Dr. John E. Mack. Dr. John Mack is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a leading authority on the transformative and spiritual aspects of alien encounters.

SCIFIMOD: Dr. Mack is the author of Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters, the 1994 bestseller Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens, and a Pulitzer prizing winning biography of the British adventurer and soldier T. E. Lawrence.

SCIFIMOD: Brief word about the drill. This is a moderated chat — please send your questions for our guest to SCIFIMOD, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on SCIFIMOD or type “/msg SCIFIMOD” on the command line – only without the quotes.)…Then hit Enter (or Return on a Mac.)

SCIFIMOD: Do you have an opinion on where aliens come from?

JohnMack: The first task in addressing that question is moving away from literal thinking, “this star” or “that star”. They may come from another dimension. One shaman asked them where they’re from and they answered “Nowhere and Everywhere”. They might come from a star system. Who knows.

m6scott: Are abductions getting more frequent now or have they slowed down?

JohnMack: It’s hard for me to answer. I have only my own cases and those I know about. I have a general impression the famous types of abductions of the late 90’s are happening less frequently. It’s more subtle. Beings that reach people. Balls of light, etc. It may be a mistake to use the term “abduction” rather than “encounter” for many such contacts. “Abduction” is what humans do to each other. But all sorts of encounters don’t literally involve physical movement that we know of.

SCIFIMOD: Any change in the way people are telling you about their abductions than say 10 years ago?

JohnMack: That’s a very interesting question. Many people who talk to me are already pretty far along in their knowledge. They know what’s happened to them and they are very well informed. They’re trying to understand how to discuss it with family. How long it’s been going on etc. They are less likely to come in overwhelmed by the strangeness of it. One of the difficulties is a self selection. It’s a field now where abductees seem to seek out researchers who reflect their feelings about the experience. So I may have of different experiences than someone else would. I don’t know that they actually think in those terms. Hopkins looks at the experience this way. Mack looks at it that way. Barbara Lamb says this. But my sense is that the initial trauma seems less now.

deadgirl: How many people if any do you think have encounters but dismiss them because of their own disbelief?

JohnMack: I would guess many. I see people who I may have been talking with for months who suddenly remember an encounter from years and years ago and they dismissed it. It’s when they have a later experience as a reference point that they begin to make the connection. Childhood experiences can be dismissed as dreams, etc.

choocha: How are your relations with the Harvard faculty after your “difficulties” surrounding your first book?

JohnMack: I would say pretty good. I’m not retired but I’m past retirement age. And as I often say a Harvard Prof can only make a fool of himself once and I’m past that. I’ve become more sophisticated in how I frame my arguments. Also I believe that a shift has occurred in the culture in the world view. That phenomenon like this are not as marginalized as they were. The Spielberg miniseries coming up, TAKEN, couldn’t have happened ten years ago. There’s a greater awareness now. We don’t dismiss out of hand as quickly as we did.

ZO: Have you ever wondered if this implant technology is used to see through our eyes, hear through our ears, and to basically view everything that we do?

JohnMack: I never really thought about that. The only thing that made much sense is the idea of tagging people to monitor them. The implant subject is one of the puzzling aspects of abduction that never quite satisfies hard science investigation. It always remains a bit out of reach. My sense is that we’re never going to pin all this down in 3 dimensional reality with the usual tools of science. I read an article about near death experience. The writer made the point that they only people trying to explain near death experience are researchers. The people who experience them don’t need explanation. They know how profound it was. The same may be true for encounter experience. It is what it is. If we don’t try to reduce it to our language we might appreciate and understand more than we realize. Maybe we know a lot when we just appreciate the interdimensional possibilities.

SCIFIMOD: Is the present alien abduction experience universal and worldwide? With a bit of digging can you find abductees as easily say in the Guatemalan Highlands as you can in New England?

JohnMack: I don’t think it’s been studied enough to answer that. What I know is that we’ve seen cases in South America, Australia, Turkey, Africa. The cases seem to show up where people look for them. The core expereince seem similar whether in Africa, or Brazil, or New York. But how it’s interpreted varies between cultures. There are a whole pantheon of “aliens” and demons and other creatures in shamanistic cultures.

choocha: Do you feel movements such as the Disclosure Project or Coalition for the Freedom of Information will soon make any headway getting the public informed of certain realities — without the major media ignoring or discrediting the “nonsense” subject of ET reality?

JohnMack: It’s already happening. The Disclosure Project aroused a lot of interest. A number of papers took it quite seriously. There was a press conference yesterday in Washington asking the government to release information. Every time there is a request the public enters the dialogue. I don’t think the government is the key here. I think it’s a myth that the government is covering up all that much of any real value. They may be covering up their own coverup. That’s not to say there are no secrets. But I don’t get the sense that they are truly interested in abduction. They’ve never been interested in what I’ve done. There was a mini-series called Intruders in ’92. Intelligence goons tried to shut him up after three cases. I’ve seen hundreds and NOBODY has directly contacted me.

SCIFIMOD: I’d like to ask a question that isn’t about alien abduction. When the young man from California John Walker Lindh was arrested in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban I was reminded somehow of T.E. Lawrence. How do you think Lawrence would view the current tensions between Islam and the West?

JohnMack: He would be appalled at the division and hostility. He tried to bring Jews and Arabs togther. It goes against everything he valued. His spirit must be in great pain.

aillann: Do most of your experiences see UFO’s? From your book it didn’t sound like your interviewees [did].

JohnMack: Oh sure. Maybe half have seen UFOs at one time or another. Often it’s just lights in the sky. But many of them do see discrete craft at one time or another. I was once at a MUFON meeting and it was striking to me that the people who reported the most sightings were also the people who had known encounters. So they do go together.

ZO: Do you think it is possible that human beings genetically engineered and cloned the “aliens” in a technological age thousands of years ago?

JohnMack: I have no idea. The whole genetic question is confusing. It’s clear that eggs and sperm are taken. The assumption is that its for genetic manipulation. But there are no studies to show that our genes have actually been altered. That the genes of abductees or their children have been changed. The more you investigate all this. The more you must insist on scientific evidence. But when you approach all this through science it becomes evasive. That may be the wrong methodology. That’s why I’ve looked at the profound experience that stands in its own light. Whether the alines are concrete or spirit beings that appear in our space. If there are hundreds of thousands of encounters why don’t we see more actual objects. I tend to downplay the literal experience for the mystical.

UMichPsychonaut: What do you think of Jung’s ideas on the collective unconscious and its relevance to ET?

JohnMack: If you mean by the collective unconscious that we are all having the same idea at more or less the same time, I don’t think so. If you mean there is a resonance between our inner lives and outside physical world perhaps. “As above so below”. But that doesn’t discount physical reality.

SCIFIMOD: Skeptics seem to view alien abduction reports either as hoax or delusion, lumping them at times with visions of the Virgin Mary, angel sightings, etc. Despite the trauma often associated with abduction experiences are they in any way a form of religious ecstasy?

JohnMack: Some intelligences are embodied, like some of the beings and some are not. There can be beings throughout the cosmos that range from dense beings like us to formless bodies and in-between states.

SCIFIMOD: Last Question.

choocha: Do the ETs have any sense of comradery with us — such as being “brothers” or do they look at us more as specimens, from what you can see?

JohnMack: That’s very much in the eye of the beholder. Some people are frightened and see them as cold and indifferent. Others feel a strong sense of bonding and love. Some even claim mates on the other side.And sometimes the same person starts out as angry and frightened and screaming and over time they form powerful bonds in later encounters but I’m involved too as the observer. It’s an ongoing phenomenon. The composer and the musician are co-creative.

JohnMack: I want to tell you all about a film called TOUCHED. It’s a one hour documentary made here and in Brazil looking at the abduction phenomenon. The producers are Blind Dog Films and Laurel Chiten. The website is www.blindogfilms.com. It’ll be showing in Boston in February. I bring this up because of the timing and all the attention SCIFI is bring to the phenomenon. Laurel can use everybody support in preparing for releasing the film next year. We all need to work at legitimizing the whole subject. And a movie like hers will have a broader chance to be seen if we open the field further.

JohnMack: I want to thank you all for coming. Good night.

SCIFIMOD: We’ll open the floor now.

SCIFIMOD: Thanks everybody.


Following is the actual presentation of the chat as it appeared live, including extra line breaks and typographical errors typical of live chats. The letters “GA” mean “Go ahead”.


*SCIFIMOD*: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us here. I’m Ben Trumble for SCIFI. Tonight we’re pleased to welcome Dr.John E. Mack. Dr. John Mack is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a leading authority on the transformative and spiritual aspects of alien encounters.

*SCIFIMOD*: Dr. Mack is the author of Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters, the 1994 bestseller Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens, and a Pulitzer prizing winning biography of the Briitish adventurer and soldier T. E. Lawrence.

*SCIFIMOD*: Brief word about the drill. This is a moderated chat — please send your questions for our guest to SCIFIMOD, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on SCIFIMOD or type “/msg SCIFIMOD” on the command line – only without the quotes.)…Then hit Enter (or Return on a Mac.)

*SCIFIMOD*: Do you have an opinion on where aliens come from?

*JohnMack*: The first task in addressing that question is moving away from literal thinking

*JohnMack*: This star or that star

*JohnMack*: They may come from another dimension

*JohnMack*: One shaman asked them where they’re from

*JohnMack*: and they answered Nowhere and Everywhere

*JohnMack*: They might come from a star system

*JohnMack*: Who knows

*SCIFIMOD*: m6scott to SCIFIMOD: Are abductions getting more frequent now or have they slowed down?

*JohnMack*: It’s hard for meto answer

*JohnMack*: I have only my own cases and those I know about

*JohnMack*: I have a general impression the famous types of aductions of the late 90’s are happening less frequently

*JohnMack*: It’s more subtle

*JohnMack*: Beings that reach people

*JohnMack*: Balls of light

*JohnMack*: etc

*JohnMack*: It may be a mistake to use the term abduction rather than encounter for many such contacts

*JohnMack*: Abduction is what humans do to each other

*JohnMack*: But all sorts of encounters don’t literally involve physical movement that we know of

*JohnMack*: GA

*SCIFIMOD*: any change in the way people are telling you about thier abductions than say 10 years ago?

*JohnMack*: That’s a very interesting question

*JohnMack*: Many people who talk to me are already pretty far along in their knowledge

*JohnMack*: They know what’s happened to them and they are very weell informed

*JohnMack*: They’re trying to understand how to discuss it with family

*JohnMack*: How long it’s been going on etc

*JohnMack*: They are less likely to come in overwhelmed by the strangness of it

*JohnMack*: One of the difficulties is a self selection

*JohnMack*: It’s a field now where abductees seem to seek out researchers who refelect their feelings about the experience

*JohnMack*: So I may have of different expereinces than som,eone else would

*JohnMack*: I don’t know that they actually think in those terms

*JohnMack*: Hopkins looks at the experience this way

*JohnMack*: Mack looks at it that way

*JohnMack*: Barbara Lamb says this

*JohnMack*: But my sense is that the initial trauma seems less now

*JohnMack*: GA

*SCIFIMOD*: deadgirl to SCIFIMOD: how many people if any do you think have encounters but dismiss them because of their own disbelief

*JohnMack*: I would guess many

*JohnMack*: I see people who I may have been talking with for months

*JohnMack*: who suddenly remember and encounter from years and years ago

*JohnMack*: and they dismissed it

*JohnMack*: It’s when they have a later experience as a reference point that they begin to make the connection

*JohnMack*: Childhood experiences can be dismissed as dreams etc

*JohnMack*: GA

*SCIFIMOD*: choocha to SCIFIMOD: how are your relations with the harvard faculty after your “difficulties” surrounding your first book

*JohnMack*: I would say pretty good

*JohnMack*: I’m not retired but I’m past retirement age

*JohnMack*: And as I often say a Harvard Prof can only make a fool of himself once

*JohnMack*: and I’m past that

*JohnMack*: I’ve become more sophisticated in how I frame my arguments

*JohnMack*: Also I believe that a shift has occured in the culture

*JohnMack*: in the world view

*JohnMack*: That phenomenon like this are not as marginalized as they were

*JohnMack*: The Speilberg miniseries coming up TAKEN couldn’t have happned ten years ago

*JohnMack*: There’s a greater awareness now

*JohnMack*: We don’t dismiss out of hand as quickly as we did

*SCIFIMOD*: ZO to SCIFIMOD: Have you ever wondered if this implant technology is used to see through our eyes, hear through our ears, and to basically view everything that we do?

*JohnMack*: I never really thought about that

*JohnMack*: The only thing that made much sense is the idea of tagging people to monitor them

*JohnMack*: The implant subject is one of the puzzling aspects of abduction that never quite satisfies hard science investigation

*JohnMack*: It always remains a bit out of reach

*JohnMack*: My sense is that we’re never going to pin all this down in 3 dimensional reality with the usual tools of science

*JohnMack*: I read an article about near death experience

*JohnMack*: The writer made the point that they only people trying to explain near death experience are researchers

*JohnMack*: The people who experience them don’t need explaination

*JohnMack*: They know how profound it was

*JohnMack*: The same may be true for encounter experience

*JohnMack*: It is what it is

*JohnMack*: If we don’t try to reduce it to our language we might appreciate and understand more than we realize

*JohnMack*: Maybe we know a lot when we just appreciate the interdimensional possibilities

*SCIFIMOD*: Is the present alien abduction experience universal and worldwide? With a bit of digging can you find abductees as easily say in the Guatemalan Highlands as you can in New England?

*JohnMack*: I don’t think it’s been studied enough to answer that

*JohnMack*: What I know is that we’ve seen cases in South America

*JohnMack*: Australia

*JohnMack*: Turkey

*JohnMack*: Africa

*JohnMack*: The cases seem to show up where people look for them

*JohnMack*: The core expereince seem similar whether in Africa, or Brazil, or New York

*JohnMack*: But how it’s interpreted varies between cultures

*JohnMack*: There are a whole pantheon of “aliens” and demons and other creatures in shamanistic cultures

*SCIFIMOD*: choocha to SCIFIMOD: Do you feel movements such as the disclosure project or coalition for the freedom of information will soon make any headway getting the public informed of certain realities ——– without the major media ignoring or discrediting the “nonsense” subject of ET reality

*JohnMack*: It’s already happening

*JohnMack*: The Disclosure Project aroused a lot of interest

*JohnMack*: A number of papers took it quite seriously

*JohnMack*: There was a press conference yesterday in Washington asking the government to release information

*JohnMack*: Everytime thjere is a request the public enters the dialogue

*JohnMack*: I don’t think the government is the key here

*JohnMack*: I think it’s a myth that the government is covering up all that much of any real value

*JohnMack*: They may be covering up their own coverup

*JohnMack*: That’s not to say there are no secrets

*JohnMack*: But I don’t get the sense that they are truly interested in abduction

*JohnMack*: They’ve never been interestyed in what I’ve done

*JohnMack*: There was a mini-series called Intruders in ’92

*JohnMack*: Intelligence goons tried to shut him up after three cases

*JohnMack*: I’ve seen hundreds and NOBODY has directly contacted me

*SCIFIMOD*: I’d like to ask a question that isn’t about alien abduction. When the young man from California John Walker Lindh was arrested in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban I was reminded somehow of T.E. Lawrence. How do you think Lawrence would view the current tensions between Islam and the West

*JohnMack*: He would be appalled at the division and hostility

*JohnMack*: He tried to bring Jews and Arabs togther

*JohnMack*: It goes against everything he valued

*JohnMack*: His spirit must be in great pain

*SCIFIMOD*: aillann to SCIFIMOD: Do most of your experiences see UFO’s? From your book it didn’t sound like your interviewes

*JohnMack*: Oh sure

*JohnMack*: Maybe half have seen UFOs at one time or another

*JohnMack*: Often it’s just lights in the sky

*JohnMack*: But many of them do see discreet craft at one time or another

*JohnMack*: I was once at a MUFON meeting and it was striking to me that the people who reported the most sightings were also the people who had known encounters

*JohnMack*: So they do go together

*SCIFIMOD*: ZO to SCIFIMOD: Do you think it is possible that Human beings genetically engineered, and cloned the “aliens” in technological age thousands of years ago?

*JohnMack*: I have no idea

*JohnMack*: The whole genetic question is confusing

*JohnMack*: It’s clear that eggs and sperm are taken

*JohnMack*: The assumption is that its for genetic manipulation

*JohnMack*: But there are no studies to show that our genes have actually been altered

*JohnMack*: That the genes of abductees or their children have been changed

*JohnMack*: The more you investigate all this

*JohnMack*: The more you must insist on scientific evidence

*JohnMack*: But when you opproach all this through science it becomes evasive

*JohnMack*: That may be the wrong methodology

*JohnMack*: That’s why I’ve looked at the profound experience that stands in its own light

*JohnMack*: Whether the alines are concrete or spirit beings that appear in our space

*JohnMack*: If there are 100’s of thousands of encounters why don’t we see more actual objects

*JohnMack*: I tend to downplay the literal experience for the mystical

*SCIFIMOD*: UMichPsychonaut to SCIFIMOD: what do you think of Jungs ideas on the collective unconsious and its relecence to ET

*JohnMack*: If you mean by the collective unconsious that we are all having the same idea at more or less the same time, I don’t think so

*JohnMack*: If you mean there is a resonance between our inner lives and outside physical world perhaps

*JohnMack*: As above so below

*JohnMack*: But that doesn’t discount physical reality

*SCIFIMOD*: Skeptics seem to view alien abduction reports either as hoax or delusion, lumping them at times with visions of the Virgin Mary, angel sightings, etc. Despite the trauma often associated with abduction experiences are they in any way a form of religious ecstasy?

*JohnMack*: Some intelligences are embodied, like some of the beings

*JohnMack*: And some are not

*JohnMack*: There can be beings throughout the cosmos that range from dense beings like us to formless bodies and in beteween states

*SCIFIMOD*: Last Question

*SCIFIMOD*: choocha to SCIFIMOD: Do the ETs have any sense of comradery with us —such as being “brothers” or do they look at us more as specimens, from what you can see

*JohnMack*: That’s very much in the eye of the beholder

*JohnMack*: Some people are frightened and see them as cold and indifferent

*JohnMack*: Others feel a strong sense of bonding and love

*JohnMack*: Some even claim mates on the other side

*JohnMack*: And sometimes the same person starts out as angry and frightened and screaming

*JohnMack*: And over time they form powerful bonds in later encounters

*JohnMack*: But I’m involved too as the observer

*JohnMack*: It’s an ongoing phenomenon

*JohnMack*: The composer and the musician are co-creative.

*JohnMack*: I want to tell you all about a film called TOUCHED

*JohnMack*: It’s a one hour documentary made here and in Brzil looking at the abduction phenomenon.

*JohnMack*: The producers are Blind Dog Films and Laurel Chitin

*JohnMack*: The website is www.blindogfilms.com

*JohnMack*: It’ll be showing in Boston in February

*JohnMack*: I bring this up because of the timing and all the attention SCIFI is bring to the phenomenon

*JohnMack*: Laurel can use everybody support in preparing for releasing the film next year

*JohnMack*: We all need to work at legitmizing the whole subject

*JohnMack*: And a movie like hers will have a broader chance to be seen if we open the filed further

*JohnMack*: I want to thank you all for coming

*JohnMack*: Good night

*SCIFIMOD*: We’ll open the floor now

*SCIFIMOD*: Thanks everybody


  Subject Area: Interviews

Comments are closed.