The Peculiar Truth about the Harvard Professor Who Believed in Aliens
- In 1977, John Mack became head of Harvard University’s Department of Psychiatry. He was a highly regarded intellectual.
- His specialties were child psychology and the psychology of religion.
- His biography of T.S. Lawrence, A Prince of Our Disorder, won the Pulitzer Prize.
- Dr. Mack marched with Carl Sagan in opposition to nuclear proliferation.
- He wrote on a variety of subjects, such as treating suicidal patients, heroin addiction, and history.
- However, Dr. Mack’s bestselling book was called Abduction (1994).
- Using a controversial method called hypnotic regression, he listened to hundreds of people who claimed abductions by extraterrestrials. His book contained dozens of those interviews.
- Professor Mack believed that his patients were telling the truth. They had been kidnapped, and aliens had visited Earth.
- For an esteemed member of academia, a Harvard psychologist no less, to make such a claim raised skeptical eyebrows.
- A journalist fooled Dr. Mack into believing that she, too, had been kidnapped by extraterrestrials. She claimed it occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that she saw Kennedy and Kruschev talking while she was aboard a UFO in outer space.
- Dr. Mack believed her wild tale.
- She publicly reported that she was a fraud, but the professor’s opinions about aliens visiting earth remained unchanged.
- It created a public relations mess for the prestigious university.
- As a result, Harvard conducted an internal investigation of Mack. The administration wanted him fired.
- But some academics, including law professor Alan Dershowitz, questioned the investigation’s validity since Dr. Mack hadn’t violated any of the school’s rules of conduct.
- Over one year later, the investigation concluded, and the doctor kept his tenured position.
- But his formerly sterling reputation was ruined. His colleagues stopped taking him seriously.
- Professor Mack, a believer in UFOs and alien abductions, remained head of Harvard University’s psychiatry department until his death in 2004.
Dan is the author of over a dozen novels. His latest is Tight Five. He publishes ‘The Peculiar Truth’ every Tuesday.
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