In the world of professional wrestling, fans fall into two categories, known as the Smarts and the Marks. The Marks believe that they are watching spontaneous contests of strength and skill. The Smarts know that they are watching a fascinating, highly plotted, roughly scripted form of dramatic entertainment--a sort of sweaty soap opera. The Smarts and the Marks have a lot to talk about, though their conversation sometimes seems at cross- purposes. They have both developed an enthusiastic appreciation for the phenomenon, but on different levels. In the world of unidentified flying objects, John E. Mack (or, as his book jacket labels him, "John E. Mack, M.D., the Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist") is a Mark masquerading as a Smart. Mack believes that little gray aliens have been abducting Americans in large numbers and subjecting them to various forms of unwilling sex. (Yes, that again.) Mack also believes that, for a bunch of cosmic rapists, these aliens are a pretty benign bunch. They're trying to bring us in touch with our spiritual sides, or trying to remind us how important it is to care about the planet, or otherwise trying to help our consciousness evolve. But you already know this--unless you've missed him these past few weeks on "Oprah," in The New York Times Magazine, on "48 Hours" and in supermarket tabloids, talk shows and news programs across the country. Alien-abduction mythology has been one of this country's tawdry belief manias since the 1960s. It is a leading case of the anti-rational, anti-science cults that are flourishing with dismaying vigor in the United States, and with dismayingly little counterbalance from people who ought to know better. UFOs in general, paranormals who bend spoons, parapsychologists who sense spiritual auras, crystal healers, believers in reincarnation, psychic crime-solvers--all of these natural descendants of tarot- readers and crystal ball-gazers get uncritical television time and newsprint. It's a dangerous trend. The blurring of distinctions between real knowledge and phony knowledge leaves all of us more vulnerable to faith-healers and Holocaust-deniers of all sorts. The new wave of marketing the abduction myth has been grotesquely effective. The New York Times Book Review chose to give Mack's new book a major illustrated review written by another psychiatrist who has spent time interviewing supposed abductees. This reviewer, James S. Gordon, criticizes some of Mack's methods, but hails him for giving "visibility to a phenomenon that is ordinarily derided," and concludes that Mack "has performed a valuable and brave service, enlarging the domain and [457 lines left ... full text available at <url:http://www.reference.com/cgi-bin/pn/go?choice=message&table=05_1997&mid=3145057&hilit=HYPNOSIS> ] -------------------------------- Article-ID: 05_1997&3132703 Score: 84 Subject: Air is the currency of life.