Martin S. Kottmeyer
It is fair to say that disbelievers in alien abduction claims find most of David Jacobs’s book The Threat (1998) a matter of high weirdness and maybe even a bit funny. Believers, a few anyways, however feel it is an important book. It deserves respect for calling attention to a world-class danger arising from the visions of those closest to the centre of the action of the UFO saga. (Sandow, ufoevidence) How dare you dismiss it.
There is one part of Jacobs’s book I found especially amusing. Against their wills, I trust even believers can be convinced this bit of the book is worth at least a smirk. Even if you are completely allergic to talk about common sense or scientific considerations, you can still appreciate how funny this is. While the Jacobs book presents itself as bringing fresh insights to the abduction phenomenon, there was one matter in which he was distinctly behind the curve and didn’t realize it.
It is in a section detailing his findings on “Basic Alien Biology.” He repeats some observations from his prior book Secret Life (1992) about how aliens appear to never eat or excrete. They don’t seem to have teeth, intestines, or an anus. (Nyah, nyan nyah -- Can’t probe them!) One alien even directly tells one abductee, “We need no human consumption of the matter that you eat.” Could they be robots? No, too easy.
Jacobs sets things up for his new discovery. He writes, “Until now, how aliens obtain fuel has been a mystery” (The Threat, 1998, p. 98) In a regression dated 6 July 1994, one of his abductees, Allison Reed, gave him “the key to the mystery.” She sees a room full of tanks filled with liquid and she sees Greys bobbing around in them. One tells her that the tanks are for eating and sleeping. Jacobs learnedly infers the aliens obtain their fuel “by absorption through the skin rather than ingestion.” He observes this probably explains how alien foetuses survived in incubatoriums without umbilical cords. He adds a comment from southern Illinois abductee Diane Henderson that the liquid they float in was nutritious. This was revealed in a session dated 14 July 1994. Jacobs further reports Susan Steiner reported seeing nutrients brushed on the skin. He learns this in a session dated 9 October 1995.
Jacobs refers to this as “the absorption theory” and he clearly regards the insight as a personal triumph and a fresh advance. He writes, “Thus, whatever the specific and still unknown biological processes we now know that the aliens obtain fuel differently from humans, that their skin has a unique function, and that they convert ‘food’ to energy very differently.” We’d know more, but aliens are a secretive lot. (The Threat, 1998, p. 101) Raise eyebrow, pause for it --- now?
Ten years prior to Jacobs’s book, January 1988, a document was circulating on the Internet that is infamous in UFO circles. It was called The Krill Report and it gathered together a lot of the rumours and paranoia that had been building up surrounding revelations first advanced by Paul Bennewitz concerning the Dulce base, an underground facility purportedly populated by alien Greys. From this digital file, we’ll lift two relevant quotes:
We knew that the Greys were instrumental in performing the mutilations of animals (and some humans) and that they were using the glandular substances derived from these materials for food (absorbed through the skin) and to clone more Greys in their underground laboratories.
The apparent reasoning for the Grey preoccupation with this is due to their lack of a formal digestive tract and the fact that they absorb nutrients and excrete waste directly through the skin. The substances that they acquire are mixed with hydrogen peroxide and "painted" on their skin, allowing absorption of the required nutrients. It is construed from this that some weaponry against them might be geared in this direction.
These lines unambiguously demonstrate the existence of the absorption theory a full decade before Jacobs claims to unveil it. The Krill Report was widely read among UFO buffs - it was, I feel it is fair to say, virtually impossible to avoid it if you surfed the net for information about UFOs. This information about Greys absorbing nutrients through the skin quickly found its way into taxonomies of the period. Valerian (1988) reports of Grey Species 3 The Rigelians: “The nutrient glandulars extracted from terrestrial biological organisms is absorbed through their skin in a dual osmotic process. Nutrients are taken in and waste materials are excreted.”
George Andrews rephrases things for his “Tentative Taxonomy of Extraterrestrial Humanoids” Rigelians developed glandular problems due to nuclear war. “They derived nourishment - absorbed through their pores - from the glandular secretions and the enzymes extracted from the animals they mutilate. (Andrews 1993) Earlier versions of the Andrews taxonomy were available on the Web and Branton included a copy in his compilation/anthology The Dulce Book (1996).
Talk about the Greys and this information would eventually come up. Those who channelled Greys confirmed the information from purportedly firsthand sources. Early in Lyssa Royal's Visitors from Within (1992), we learn the Zeta Reticulans genetically altered their bodies to absorb nutrients through the skin when nuclear war forced them underground. Plants died, oxygen decreased, and they turned to raising embryos in labs, cloning them, and altering their genes to alter the way their bodies functioned.(Royal & Priest, 1992, p.4) In his 1996 article “Shades of Gray” Daryl Smith revises the Greys taxonomy of Andrews but keeps the information about nutrients being absorbed through the skin. (Smith 1996)
This absorption theory evolved out of Paul Bennewitz’s work. Back in May 1980, Myrna Hansen purportedly was abducted and brought into the Dulce Base. Inside, she saw the "top of a bald head," apparently of a hairless alien in a tank full of cattle parts and human body parts. Bennewitz derives from this case the idea that aliens conduct mutilations to create a liquid “formula made from human or cattle material or both.” In Project Beta he reports “If they do not get formula/food within a certain period they will weaken and die.” They need water to create the “feeding formula,” so he felt bombing the dams around the Dulce Base could be an effective way to attack them. In an April 1983 interview, he told a fellow colleague in cattle mutilation studies that the aliens use cattle DNA to create humanoids. If they do not get their food formula, they will turn green. They also eliminate through the skin. By March 1986 Bennewitz had reversed this. in a letter to a colleague Clifford Stone, he says the aliens are generally light green, but "when in need of formula or dead they turn GREY." They eliminate wastes via osmosis. (Branton 1996)
This information became high profile with the release of the John Lear statement [first version: 29 December 1987; revised: 25 March 1988]. Lear brings forward all sorts of paranoia such as the US being in business with little grey extraterrestrials for about 20 years. On the matter of the nature of Greys, Lear revealed they have a "genetic disorder in that their digestive system is atrophied and not functional." He indicates it's speculated that this came either from a nuclear war or they are "on the back side of an evolutionary genetic curve." They extract enzymes from human and animal tissues. He specifically refers to the Dulce Base having vats of human body parts.
This information was further disseminated in newsstand UFO magazines in 1989. In their spring 1989 issue, UFO Universe gives a Clifford Stone interview that repeats Myrna Hansen’s observation of vats of human parts in an underground base (Boyajian 1989). In their fall 1989 issue William Cooper relays his tale of seeing a briefing book in 1972 that discusses the four types of Greys and states they have atrophied, non-functioning digestive systems. They have chlorophyll and can get energy that way, but they also use blood and other animal fluids to survive on. They excrete their wastes through the skin. (Cooper 1989)
In 1991, ufologist Forest Crawford reported that a crash-retrieval researcher he called Oscar had learned about a humanoid nicknamed Hank acquired in a disc-recovery research project called OSMA. Before Hank died Oscar was able to confirm Greys use human fluids for sustenance. “They feed by immersing their arms in vats and/or rubbing the fluids on their bodies.” This was told in the spring 1991 issue of UFO Journal of Facts and repeated in Branton (1996).
“Revelations from the Leading Edge,” [reprinted in Valdamar Valerian’s Matrix II (1991)] elaborates the theory in these terms: “The Greys consume nourishment through a process of absorption through their skin. The process, according to abductees who have witnessed it, involved spreading a biological slurry mixture that has been mixed with hydrogen peroxide [which oxygenates the slurry and eliminates bacteria] onto their skin. Waste products are then excreted back through the skin.” This source also tells the story of another abductee taken by entities from Bellatrix whose two children were killed when she would not co-operate:
She managed to run down a hallway and went into a room where she saw a vat full of red liquid and body parts of humans and animals. She saw another vat of the same type in which the liquid was being agitated, and as she looked into the vat she could see Greys bobbing up and down, almost swimming, absorbing the nutrients through their skin. There is also the use of H2O2 [water molecules with an extra oxygen atom added] in the vats in order to aid in preserving the fluid from rapid degeneration.
Not really surprisingly, this sensational tale is unreferenced. Further down in the document, it is added that alien digestive tracts are useless. Nourishment is ingested by smearing a soupy mixture of biologicals on the epidermis. Food sources [include] Bovine cattle [and human] parts surgically removed by light technology [laser] and distilled into a high protein broth. Branton (1996, chapter 30) also repeats these revelations.
Even if one whimsically decides to praise Jacobs for his good taste in not wading through the sewer of extremist paranoia beyond and beneath mainstream UFO culture, there are still a couple of problems. These claims were discussed in depth by higher browed ufologists who held these beliefs in contempt. Jacques Vallée, in Revelations (1991), described a meeting with William Cooper where he asserts of aliens, “Their biology is well-understood... Their digestive system is atrophied… They absorb nourishment through the skin, and they excrete through the skin, too” (Vallée, 1991, p. 74)
Vallée is a long time veteran of the UFO controversy and his writings are obligatory reading for every ufologist. It would be unthinkable that Jacobs didn’t own a copy. There is also Peter Brookesmith’s UFO: The Government Files (1996). It was a major publication by Barnes & Noble that anyone considering himself an informed historian of ufology necessarily has in his library. The Myrna Hanson story is retold there in detail. In a section titled LEAR.TXT one also is exposed to the relevant details of aliens with atrophied digestive systems and formulas being applied to the skin by brush or by dipping. The absorption theory is unambiguously stated: “The body absorbs the solution, then excretes the waste back through the skin.”(Brookesmith, 1996; pp. 108, 112)
So. Allison Reed clearly was not the first abductee to claim to see Greys bobbing around in vats and it would be a rare UFO buff who did not immediately think of Myrna Hansen’s claims on hearing Reed’s words. Susan Steiner’s talk of seeing nutrients brushed on the skin should similarly remind even casually informed buffs of the passage in The Krill Report quoted above. When Jacobs suggests that hybrid babies lack umbilical cords because they absorb food through the skin, I really had to smile. I had divined that interpretation myself in an article about incubatoriums back in 1995. (Kottmeyer 1995) The Greys' peculiar food habits were not exactly hidden. Type “Grays” into a search engine and information about the knowledge about their absorption biology would pop up on the first page of links. Magazines and books likewise circulated this stuff widely among the digitally disadvantaged.
Let me emphasise that the more mainstream ufologists ridiculed the idea that aliens populated the Dulce base. Vallée, in Revelations (1991, p. 54) was scathing, comparing them to Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and provided reasons for his disbelief that were convincing to anybody not blinded by paranoia. It is unclear to me what ufologists who believe in abductions but disbelieve that Dulce Base was an alien lair do with Myrna Hanson’s claims. Perhaps, like Jacobs, they forget them.
Given all of this, the thought that Dr Jacobs presents his absorption theory as new product is just hilarious. You don’t have to be a sceptic to ask what cave he had been holed up in.
A few may now be wondering why I bring this up now. The Threat has been around seven years. Though I recognised how funny it was immediately, by itself it didn’t seem worth bothering about. It didn’t contribute to any larger point and buffs would just shrug it off as a personal attack over a very trifling matter.
Few Americans have ever seen Dan Dare comics. Its fame is such that its reputation as a must-see comic in British science fiction fandom is however known even here in the USA. Recently, a publisher in the USA finally decided to collect together and reprint the Dan Dare series. I didn’t need much convincing to buy a couple of these new books of reprints. I liked it. Nice colour palette and intricate art.
In the process of reading it I discovered something I never suspected. In the 16th strip - it first appeared 28 July 1950 - a character named Digby is taken to a tank with liquid in it. His alien guide, a Venusian Treen - it is a reptoid by current alien taxonomy conventions - presents this vat as “The Food Bath - Thirty seconds immersion will give you all the nutriment you need.” (Hampson, 2004)
Dan Dare's 1950 Venusian Food Bath
The food bath ... thirty seconds immersion will give you all the nutrient you need"
"How are you for pepper and salt, Dig?"
"Give me a Lancashire hot-pot every time sir"
While I am well used to UFO lore having precedents in science fiction, I was nonetheless happily amazed to see this. I mean this seemed pretty arcane stuff. My instinct was to discount the idea that this British strip could be a source of this absorption through the skin idea. There is nothing in Jungian psychology to suggest something like this would be archetypal. But could something like this be reinvented from scratch? Perhaps there is independent reasoning down from broader-shared pieces of knowledge.
The comic provides at least one clue. In Dan Dare #14, there was a seed planted in anticipation of discovering this vat. A Venusian Treen expresses feeling unfortunate to have landed among humans: “They have never, alas, outgrown their digestions, emotions, or fighting instincts.” The Treens are implicitly a ‘superior’ race. In this they represent a parallel future evolution like that we see overtly underlying our ideas about the Greys. Maybe this is all a transitional strategy, an interim way to grow big brains without the messiness and inconvenience of animal bodies.
It should be remembered that H.G. Wells, no less, proposed as far back as 1893 that man in the far future might evolve an organic chemistry that made the distractions of eating and digestion a thing of the past.
Is there any absolute impossibility in supposing man to be destined for a similar change; to imagine him no longer dining, with unwieldy paraphernalia of servants and plates, upon food queerly dyed and distorted, but nourishing himself in elegant simplicity by immersion in a tub of nutritive fluid?
Though this particular piece is an obscurity, the sentiment of wanting to be rid of our animal body is easy enough to come by. That sentiment pervades religion and in the present is easy enough to find in the writings cyber-philosophers who express hopes for downloading the mind into cyberspace and taking on virtual bodies. (Graham 2002)
Real-world knowledge of nutrient baths was common in the first half of the twentieth century. On 17 January 1912, Alexis Carrel, a Nobel laureate who revolutionised vascular surgery, extracted a chicken heart and kept it alive in a nutrient solution. He transferred the tissue every forty-eight hours, during which time it doubled in size and had to be trimmed before being moved to its new flask. According to legend it continued to live and grow for decades. This was immortalized in a 'Lights Out' radio play first aired 10 March 1937 (reran 23 February 1938, 24 November 1942). In it the exponential growth of the chicken heart threatened the entire Earth. A couple of decades further on, this 'Lights Out' episode formed the centre to Bill Cosby’s famous chicken-heart comedy routine. It was preserved on his album Wonderfulness.
The motif about excreting through the skin is perhaps a twist on the fact that the skin is regarded as part of the excretory system in biology texts. Take away the intestines, add fluids, and perhaps the skin is the logical remaining organ to deal with impurities. Shirley Ann Varughese had proposed something of the sort in a 1976 anthology of space writings. Playing around with a fictional species called Xenophians, she set it up as a native in a nitrogen environment. “Liquid and other waste products from the cells are expelled through the pores of the skin, as he has no lungs and no waste-removal system.” (Varughese 1975)
Of course, one can object that if these things are so logical why there is so little about food baths apart from Dan Dare’s comics and the material subsequent to The Dulce Base. But, no, I would not say it was ‘so’ logical. One can reproduce the reasoning, but I don’t feel it is an appealing notion. Swimming in broth is not my idea of a good meal. And if aliens excrete through the skin, how unpalatable might that bath be if you are swimming in leftovers? Is it plausible? Wells alludes to parasites that absorb their food from surrounding water, but can this work for full-grown humans? Humanoids? Reptoids? I tend to doubt it, since we did not evolve to work that way.
Bipedal forms implicitly are evolved for walking on land. A creature getting its nutrients from fluids implicitly is most likely to have been evolved in an aquatic environment or other fluid medium. I will willingly defer to any organic chemists who can argue knowledgeably on whether it is absolutely possible or impossible to make non-aquatic skin absorb enough nutrients to survive on, but my gut rebels at the thought.
However you choose to account for the coincidence, presumably you understand why I started thinking of Jacobs again. He provides a happy little story by which to balance this notably more annoying mystery. It is one thing for a historian to be behind the curve; it is far more absorbing when the UFO phenomenon as a whole is yet again behind the curve. The fictional ones beat the ‘real’ ones even in this weirdness.
- George Andrews, Extraterrestrial Friends & Foes, Illuminet, 1993, p. 142.
- Greg Bishop Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth, Paraview Pocket Books, 2005
- Robert W. Boyajian, "Conquest Earth? A Shocking Look Inside the Government-Alien Exchange Program: Exclusive Interview with Sargeant Clifford Stone, on Assignment at Roswell, New Mexico" UFO Universe, volume 1, #5, Spring 1989, pp. 44-7, 70
- Branton, The DULCE Book, October 1996, “Chapter 12: Operation Retaliation One Man Against an Empire”
- Peter Brookesmith’s UFO: The Government Files, Barnes & Noble, 1996 pp. 108, 112
- William Cooper, "Classified Above Top-Secret 'Operation Majority'" UFO Universe #7, Fall 1989 pp. 52-57, 63
- Elaine L. Graham, Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens, and Others in Popular Culture, Rutgers University Press, 2002
- Frank Hampson, Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future - Voyage to Venus: Part 1, Titan Books, May 2004
- David Jacobs, The Threat, Simon & Schuster, 1998
- Martin Kottmeyer, “Water E.B.E.s” The REALL News, 3, #2; February 1995, pp. 1, 7-8
- “Revelations from the Leading Edge” [no author byline given] printed in Valdemar Valerian, Matrix II, 1991 and available on the Web at www.ufoarea.com/government_dulce_branton_ch30.html
- Greg Sandow, “Danger from the Skies - A Review of David M. Jacobs' Book 'The Threat'” www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc55.htm
- Daryl Smith "Shades of Grey", Truthseekers Review #10, July/August 1996, 5pp
- H.G. Wells “Of a Book Unwritten: The Man of the Year Million” Pall Mall Budget, November 9, 1893 reprinted David Y. Hughes & Harry M. Geduld, ed. A Critical Edition of The War of the Worlds, Indiana University Press, 1993, pp. 290-4
- Valdamar Valerian, The Matrix: Understanding Aspects of Covert Interaction with Alien Culture, Technology and Planetary Power Structures, Arcturus Book Service, 1988, p. 61
- Jacques Vallée, Revelations: Alien Contact and Human Deception, Ballantine, 1991, chapter 3
- Shirley Ann Varughese, “The Planet Xeno” in Magoroh Maruyama and Arthur Harkins, ed., Cultures Beyond the Earth, Vintage Original, 1975 p. 153
From Magonia Supplement No. 59 November 2005