John Mack: off the hook at Harvard, but with something akin to a warning
C. Eugene Emery, Jr.
Dr. John Mack apparently is off the hook at Harvard.
After a year-long investigation (SI, September-October 1995), the Ivy League university where Mack is a tenured professor of psychiatry has announced that he continues to be a member in good standing of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine.
Harvard Medical School Dean Daniel C. Tosteson gave something akin to a warning to Mack, who is possibly the country’s best-known and best-credentialed proponent of the idea that people who think they have been kidnapped by space aliens actually may have been abducted by creatures from another planet or another dimension.
In a news release issued August 3, 1995, Harvard said Tosteson “has urged Dr. Mack that, in his enthusiasm to care for and study this group of individuals, he should be careful not, in any way, to violate the high standards” of Harvard.
Harvard declined to say whether the special faculty committee, which reportedly met 25 times to discuss Mack’s work, found any evidence that he had come close to violating Harvard standards.
The university, a private institution, refused to release the report of its probe, or to answer any questions raised by its statement.
A draft version of the report, released by one of Mack’s lawyers, was critical of the psychiatrist, saying that it is irresponsible to give credence to the alien abduction theory until all other possibilities, including seizures, vivid dreams, and all other conditions had been ruled out.
According to this draft report, if Mack is going to claim there is physical evidence of alien kidnappings, “We believe that Dr. Mack has an obligation to document some of this claimed physical evidence.”
Committee chairman Dr. Arnold Relman, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, told the Associated Press after the Harvard announcement that his group had made no attempt “to describe whether John Mack’s astounding claims are true.”
The issues in the Mack case had gone beyond space aliens. Even critics of his work had expressed concern that Harvard might be trying to limit Mack’s freedom, a burning issue actively stoked by Mack’s lawyers.
Harvard’s statement reaffirms “Dr. Mack’s academic freedom to study what he wishes and to state his opinions without impediment.”
News of the investigation broke as Mack was promoting the paperback version of his book Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens.
Here is the text of the statement by Harvard Medical School:
“During the past year, a committee of peers was appointed by the Dean of Harvard Medical School to review the clinical care and clinical investigation that Professor John Mack has carried out with persons who believe that they have been abducted by aliens. The review has been completed. Dean Tosteson has discussed the issues raised in the review with Dr. Mack. He has urged Dr. Mack that, in his enthusiasm to care for and study this group of individuals, he should be careful not, in any way, to violate the high standards for the conduct of clinical practice and clinical investigation that have been the hallmark of this Faculty. He also reaffirmed Dr. Mack’s academic freedom to study what he wishes and to state his opinions without impediment. Dr. Mack remains a member in good standing of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine. It is the School’s long standing practice not to disclose the content or findings of such reviews. No further comment will be made.”
Gene Emery is the science writer for the Providence Journal-Bulletin, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
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