French UFO Abductions: Far Too Few?
Department of Sociology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
A crucial test for the reality of UFO Abductions is that one would expect that there would
be a relatively even distribution across the inhabited world. In other words, if abductions
represent real events, they should not favor any particular human-inhabited geographical
area. In this regard, France could pose a crucial test, since it has lots of ufologists
but (apparently) not many abductions. A recent talk presented in July 2014 at a CNRS
conference reflected on this scarcity. By contrast, some American researchers believe
that abductions are not rare in the USA, and may be as frequent as one in fifty persons (or
even more common). Are Americans simply more suggestible?
The number of recognized abductions that one would expect, however, depends critically
on the model of reporting that one chooses. The usual model is a “percolation” one. In the
percolation model, the known “hidden events” are simply a constant fraction of the total
[real] hidden events, and they percolate upward into social consciousness at a constant rate.
In reality a constant rate is extremely unlikely. The rate of reporting, the rate of transmission
of reports, and the rate of publication of transmitted reports are all variable parameters.
They dynamically respond to the “demand conditions” operating at various levels in society.
For instance, in reporting of the “battered child syndrome” percolation previous to the
controversy transmitted merely hundreds of reports to police and hospitals. After social
awareness was aroused, and channels for reporting were created, the numbers of battered
children appeared to be in the hundreds of thousands. Similar remarks could be made about
the ostensible number Catholic priests sexually abusing children in the USA, and how it
depended on changing media attention, thus altering reporting and publication parameters.
Therefore, a second “interactive” model needs to be invoked. In the case of the USA,
several authors wrote abduction books and carried out extensive radio and television
interviews. These books and interviews led ostensible “abductees” to contact and write
letters to the authors, which were used in turn as ammunition to swell the database, made
the phenomenon seem more real, and in turn more “reportable.” As far as I can tell, however,
nothing similar happened in France. There were no local abduction experts who
wrote books, few American experts appeared on French media, and therefore there has
been little encouragement for reporting by potential French abductees. This in spite of
Jacobs’ book (and others) being translated into French. So the “demand conditions” for
abduction reporting do not exist in France. The only way this question can be resolved is
by direct inquiry (e.g. surveys) in France itself.
Prof. Ron Westrum [B.A. Harvard (honors) 1966 (Social Relations); Ph.D. University Chicago
1972 (Sociology)] is emeritus Professor of Sociology, Eastern Michigan University,
where he has taught for 42 years, in addition to visiting positions at the Universities of
Edinburgh, Hawaii, and Stavanger (Norway). He is a specialist in the sociology of complex
organizations, creativity, and system safety, and has often participated in national and
international symposia on such. He has consulted on organizational creativity and organizational
dynamics for many large organizations, such as Lockheed Space Systems, General
Motors, and the RAND corporation. He was a founding member of the Society for Scientific
Exploration, and former sociological consultant for the Mutual UFO Network. He is
best known for his classification of corporate cultures into pathological, bureaucratic, and
generative. He has three books, and numerous articles in the fields indicated.