The story began in 1966 when then six-year-old Thomas Reed was awakened in his bedroom at his family’s horse farm by strange lights and strange figures in the hallway. Thomas’ next memory was being in the nearby woods looking at a UFO. The memory after that concerns Thomas and his younger brother Matthew inside the alien spacecraft being shown projections of a willow tree.
The next incident is said to have occurred the following year when the Reed family was at their home in the town of Sheffield. The incident is similar to the one that occurred in the country, but ends with Thomas being scooped up in the family driveway by his mother who had been frantically searching for him and his brother on horseback.
The third incident is said to have occurred in 1969 when the family was driving down a country road. Strange lights in the sky appeared, the car stalled, and Thomas, Matthew, their mother and grandmother found themselves in the alien spacecraft once again. They were taken by beings described as “ant-like” and then placed in a cage. Finally, the family found themselves back in the car.
It is the 1969 incident that piqued the interest of the Great Barrington Historical Society and Museum. The abduction story took place concurrently with multiple sightings of UFOs in the area that were reported on by local media. That seeming coincidence seemed to be enough evidence to include the story as a truthful account.
The adventures of the Reed family has a curious postscript, according to the Berkshire Eagle (2), in the form of a reported abduction said to have taken place in 2009 in the town of Brownsburg, Indiana.
Matthew Reed, now an adult, reported being abducted while on his way home. He tells the story of being placed on a table by a variety of aliens and examined as though he were a biological specimen.
The Reed incidents have been investigated by MUFON, a UFO investigation organization that has been criticized for a lack of skeptical perspective, and researchers hired by Robert Bigelow, a Los Vegas hotel magnate and commercial space entrepreneur with interest in the paranormal. Physical evidence for the abductions are said to include reports of magnetic spikes, unusual radiation, and eyewitness reports.
The idea that aliens are swooping down and abducting humans, sometimes to perform experiments on them, has been part of UFO folklore for decades. Abductions have become part of popular culture, depicted on shows such as “The X-Files” as part of some kind of alien grand design for Earth and its inhabitants.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary suggests an alternate explanation to aliens (3). The alternate theory posits that alien abduction stories are, for the most part, not hoaxes. Abductees believe that they were abducted by aliens. But what they were actually experiencing was a neurological state similar to what mystics experience when they have visions.
These visions are informed by popular culture, hence their similarity. Skeptics also suggest that kidnapping people and doing things to them would be a strange activity for beings who traveled many light years to get to Earth.
Where they are truly alien abductions, delusions, or just hoaxes, stories such as the ones told by the Reed family will continue to be debated, at least until humans venture forth to the stars themselves.