Victims would always have these memories come flooding back after the fact, and it seemed strange that aliens who can cross the vast distances of space apparently don't possess the memory-wiping ability of 10 beers. But if a bunch of unrelated people get held up in the same way, and the guy who does it looks identical in every description, you're going to have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The Ridiculous Origin:
Almost all of the tropes of the modern alien abduction story come from one place: The Barney and Betty Hill abduction of 1961. The Hills were driving along when they got chased by mysterious lights, had a bout of "missing time" and were later hypnotized into remembering all the usual alien abduction stuff we already went over.
Betty & Barney Hill Archival Collection, via Huffington Post
"They were doing a study on the anuses of middle America."
It was the first significantly publicized abduction in history, and very few since have deviated from the formula. The Hills were even the first people to identify the gray aliens we all know and love today.
Now, the idea of an alien abduction itself wasn't all that new, as Buck Rogers comics from the 1930s had featured pretty much that exact thing with the "Tiger Men from Mars" story line.
Mars needs women, and they're sick of asking nicely.
But gray aliens? Who had ever heard of such a thing? Not only that, but they were peaceful. Up until that time, pop culture had featured little green men with wrinkled foreheads, catlike eyes and sharp teeth who came to wreck shit.
The Hills had totally undermined the typical alien with something no one expected. No one was thinking about gray aliens with large eyes and no noses. No one except for the costume designers working on a popular sci-fi anthology series called The Outer Limits, anyway.
Twelve days before the Hills described their alien encounter under hypnosis, an episode of the show titled "The Bellero Shield" aired, and it featured a peaceful gray alien with large eyes and no nose.
"How does he smell?" "Quite pleasant, really."
And, on top of that, even the guy who hypnotized the Hills into "remembering" their experience thought the whole thing was bullshit, pieced together by various anxieties and experiences in their everyday lives and conflated with a nightmare that Betty Hill had a few nights after the "incident" had occurred. Experiences, presumably, like the television shows they watched a few nights beforehand. Just imagine what the UFO culture would be like if they'd watched I Love Lucy instead.
For more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. Pauli Poisuo unveils very different kinds of mysteries at Year of the Fat Bastard. You can read more of his Cracked articles here.