Has the "UFO abduction" of Betty & Barney Hill been adequately debunked?

While we’re on a UFO kick, I was wondering whether the case of Betty and Barney Hill (warning: tinfoil hat zone) has been decently debunked.

Missing time? Star maps?
/\ <- tinfoil
:eek:

And, for that matter, Betty Cash’s “encounter”.

Black helicopters? UFOs spewing fire? Death from cancer?

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:eek: again.

Older issues of Skeptical Inquirer magazine have thoroughly debunked the Hills story, and many other UFO stories. Also, check out books and publications written by Phillip Klass - he is an expert on prosaic explanations for UFOs.

See Klass’ book UFO Abductions – A Dangerous Game especially. As Klass points out, the psychiatrist (?) that examined and hypnotized the Hills was certainly convinced, all along, that their story was fantasy – a fact suppressed by Look magazine and by the book The Interrupted Journey. The Hills also had plenty of opportunities to share their dreams – literally. They talked about them well in advance of ever seeing anyone, so it’s not surprising that their stories agree.

I suppose that all depends on what you consider a decent debunking.

AFAIK, there was no physical evidence, and we have only the eyewitness testimony of the Hills to allege that there was an abduction in the first place. Eyewitness testimony is fairly unreliable, especially since eyewitnesses interpret in addition to report, make up things (no malicious intent necessary), exaggerate, misremember, and are easily confused. I wouldn’t think eyewitness reports of extraordinary claims like aliens don’t necessarily need to be debunked, because there is an obvious potential source of error. I’d need something more solid, like physical evidence, before I would even consider the need for a debunking.

The Hill case does include some other elements, like “star maps” Mrs. Hill produced, complete with “trade routes” drawn in. Of course, this is merely drawn from eyewitness memory, and suffers from the same problems as her verbal accounts. In addition, it’s so easy to take a few dots drawn on paper, for which you have to assume the exact distances and spatial relationships have not been preserved, and match them with any number of possible stars in the sky. There’s a good diagram illustrating this on p. 80 of James Randi’s book Flim-Flam!.

There’s also the notion of hypnotic memory recovery involved. There’s a great deal of evidence that suggests hypnotically recovered memories are unreliable in the first place, demonstrated to horrifying effect in the fake child-abuse scandals of the 1990s. If you do believe hypnotic memories are reliable, Randi quotes one of the doctors involved:

I’m not sure there’s enough to the Hill allegation to merit a debunking…

In his Cosmos series, Carl Sagan showed how meaningless the “star map” was. A random selection of dots was just as accurate as Betty’s map.

Furthermore, the details of the alleged abduction very closely matched a TV show that had recently aired.

Did the Hills ever make money off their (bogus) story? If you go to Roswell, NM, the town has turned UFOs into a major industry! Lots of good jobs serving the believers!