The Truth Is in There: Susan Clancy on recovered memories

In the late 1990s, as a twenty-year rash of high-profile sex abuse cases was winding down, Harvard Ph.D. student Susan Clancy took a skeptical look at the phenomenon of “recovered memories”â..memories repressed for years and suddenly recalled in therapy, which had been sending accused molesters to jail for a decade. Her work promptly got her labeled a “friend of pedophiles” by one letter writer, and politically biased by a colleague quoted in the New York Times. Unprepared for the political minefield she’d stumbled into, Clancy started looking for a way to study false memory creation without inviting attacks of political bias. Naturally, she turned to aliens.
Claims of alien abduction have become increasingly common over the past thirty years, Clancy reports, as has a general belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life. Recruiting people who truly believed they’d been abducted by extraterrestrials, she found a way to study memory creation without directly engaging the bitter debate over recovered memories of abuse. And listening to their grotesque and often sexually explicit accounts, she could be reasonably sure that the memories she was studying were not vivid recollections of traumatic abuse, but imaginative reconstructions of the latest Spielberg flick.
Reason: Susan Clancy on recovered memories, alien abductions, and how to believe weird things. A Reason interview.