Alien abductees and university professors who specialize in extraterrestrial research gathered last night at University Medical Center to share their out-of-this-world experiences.
UA professor Gary Schwartz emceed a free lecture titled "Evidence for Extraterrestrial Life?"
More than 50 people attended the event, which featured two documentaries and a question-and-answer session with two doctors who believe that extraterrestrial life exists in some form.
Schwartz, the director of the UA's Human Energy Systems Lab, said, "Our lab works in controversial areas, but the topic tonight is extremely controversial."
Dr. Lynne Kitei, a cardiologist from Phoenix, recounted her numerous UFO sightings and showed the audience a documentary featuring her home video of the phenomena, titled "The Phoenix Lights."
Kitei had her first UFO sighting in 1995. She was taking a bath when her husband started screaming to her from their bedroom to come see the unusual lights that were "hovering" outside the window.
Kitei described the lights as "three amber orbs, each about 3 to 6 feet in diameter, about 50 to 75 feet above us, hovering in a triangular formation."
She took video and still photos of the lights as they "dimmed away."
Two years later, on March 13, 1997, Kitei said a mass UFO sighting occurred in Phoenix and throughout Arizona. Up to 10,000 people saw the orbs of light that Kitei described as they waited to see the Hale-Bopp comet.
Panic ensued as people called the police departments and fire departments. No one knew what caused the unusual lights that some described as being attached to some sort of ship that was said to be more than a mile long, she said.
Kitei called Luke Air Force base and could not obtain any information. She contacted the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, where one air traffic controller and one commercial pilot reported seeing the lights. Nothing showed up on the radar.
The mystery went unsolved until 2000, when the National Guard staged an air show to prove to the public that an Air Force maneuver was behind the mysterious "Phoenix lights." They flew planes with flares attached to them over the city to "re-enact" the event.
But the people who had witnessed the real Phoenix lights, including Kitei, were still skeptical.
Kitei contacted Schwartz, who was reluctant to take on the subject.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't really want to see her," he said.
But Schwartz found Kitei's evidence very convincing and said that she was "alarmingly sane."
"I could not give up my intellectual integrity," he said.
Schwartz went on to write the foreword to Kitei's book.
Kitei also told the audience that she had a near-death experience as a child, has also had out-of-body experiences and believes she is telepathic.
The evening got more out-of-this-world as Dr. John Mack, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, took the stage with his documentary titled "Touched," which chronicles his research on alien abductions.
Mack, who conducted extensive clinical analysis of supposed abductees, said he did not find any psychological disturbances that could account for their behavior.
One man said he was abducted by aliens and taken into their spacecraft, where sperm samples were taken, and he was forced to mate with an alien female.
A woman claimed to have mothered hybrid alien-human children.
Skepticism of these phenomena is widespread. Harvard conducted a 14-month investigation into Mack's research, concerned that he was connecting Harvard with a subject controversial, according to Mack's documentary.
But they did not take any action against Mack and ultimately allowed him to continue his research.
There are also many people who believe these phenomena are real. When Kitei asked how many people in the audience were "believers," almost all of the people raised their hands.
One woman in the audience claimed to be an alien abductee herself.
"I just wanted to say that I am an abductee, and the experience has always been positive and exciting for me," she said.
Kitei said it is probable that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists.
"Our solar system is relatively young. There may be beings that are billions of years more advanced than we are. We may be looking for FM on the AM dial," she said.
Schwartz said we as a culture need to stop denying reliable data on controversial subjects.
"Shakespeare said, ĪTo be or not to be; that is the question.' But for us, it's, ĪTo see or not to see; that is the question," he said.