Video by ABC in the USA about the suicide cult Heaven’s Gate, 10 year later.
Belief in Aliens Can Turn Deadly
By Benjamin Radford, Special to LiveScience
posted: 07 June 2007 08:15 am ET
According to recent polls, about a third of Americans believe that space aliens have visited Earth.
For most people, belief in UFOs and aliens is harmless.
In some cases, however, such beliefs can have grave consequences.
Take, for example, the trial of Allison Lamont Norman, which began last week in Georgetown, Delaware.
Norman is accused of killing two people and wounding four others during a shooting rampage in April 2005.
What triggered the massacre?
According to his lawyer, Norman believed his victims were space aliens who were trying to abduct his daughter.
This is not the first time that bizarre beliefs have played a role in mayhem.
* When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in the skies in 1997, many people were excited.
But soon some UFO buffs claimed that an alien spacecraft was following the comet.
Though there was no truth to the rumor, talk show host Art Bell repeated the claim on his late-night show “Coast to Coast AM.”
Sadly, the Heaven’s Gate cult believed that the non-existent spaceship was carrying Jesus, and that it was a sign for the followers to leave their earthly vessels.
Thirty-nine people committed suicide.
* In May 2002, six people were injured when eighteen pipe bombs left in rural mailboxes in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas exploded.
The bombs were traced to Luke J. Helder, a twenty-one-year-old college student.
Following a high-speed car chase, Helder was armed with a shotgun when he was arrested in Reno, Nevada.
Helder wrote that the bombs were “attention getters” designed to enlighten the world to his beliefs about paranormal topics such as aliens, ghosts, astral projection, and spirit channeling.
He wrote, “I’m taking very drastic measures in attempt to provide this information to you.”
* A 2005 exorcism at a Romanian convent resulted in the death of Maricica Irina Cornici, a twenty-three-year-old schizophrenic nun who said she heard the devil telling her she was sinful.
With assistance from four nuns, priest Daniel Corogeanu bound Cornici to a cross, gagged her mouth with a towel, and left her for three days without food or water.
The ritual, the priest explained, was an effort to drive devils out of the woman.
Cornici was found dead on June 15.
In February 2007, Corogeanu and the four nuns were sentenced to fourteen years in prison.
While nothing can prevent tragedies such as these, a healthy dose of science and skepticism can help inoculate people against dangerous ideas.
Benjamin Radford wrote about mass hysterias and popular delusions in “Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking,” with sociologist Robert Bartholomew.
This and other books are noted on his website.
The LaRouche cult: here.
Trots in Space: article on Posadism: here.