Decoder Ring

The First Alien Abductees

The alien abduction narrative started right here on Earth.

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Episode Notes

When you think of an alien abduction, what do you picture? Humanoid creatures, medical experiments, lost memories retrieved through hypnosis? That narrative was largely unknown until Betty and Barney Hill went public about their own alien abduction in the 1960s. Betty Hill’s niece, Kathleen Marden, recounts how the story went viral and her aunt and uncle became unwitting celebrities. Then professors Susan Lepselter, Chris Bader, Joseph O. Baker and Stephanie Kelley-Romano explain how the Hills’ alien abduction changed science fiction forever.

Thanks to Eric Molinsky for bringing us this story that originally aired on his terrific podcast Imaginary Worlds. Eric’s got a lot more stories like this one so subscribe wherever you listen.

Decoder Ring is written by Willa Paskin and produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is senior supervising producer of narrative podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our technical director.

If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at DecoderRing@slate.com.

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About the Show

In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

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