Aside from being fatally flawed, this was an interesting book.
Ring succeeds, at least as well as any other contemporary author who wishes to exploit the fringe and its victims, (or, as some have stated, in using classic spin techniques in resolving to problem of so-called alien abductions), in pandering to requirements of sentiment: For it will be evident, as we will shortly see, that underlying this extraordinarily diverse array of difficult-to-credit perceptions there seems to be a genuine *phemonenon* as robustly consistent as it is inexplicable. [Emphasis Ring, pg. 44] With respect to UFO encounters, of course the most striking parallel with the NDE is found in the abduction narrative, where again a reliable sequence of events is normally described... [pg. 197] Ring established two study groups, near-death experiencers and UFO encounter experiencers, NDE and UFOE respectively; and two control groups, people interested in and/or concerned about near-death experiences and UFO encounters who specifically had not had such an experience, NDC and UFOC respectively. Separate custom questionaires for each group were designed and distributed as follows: NDE 74 NDC 54 UFOE 97 UFOC 39 [pg. 120-121] Presumably data and respondents for the near-death categories came from Ring's personal files. For the UFO data and respondents: and his wife, Anne, through their Communion Network ""[sic], also provided me with the names of quite a few persons who eventually participated in the Omega Project. Dr. Sprinkle provided lists of attendees of his annual UFO conferences, Hopkins and Joseph Nyman provided names of additional respondents from their own research files and John White provided lists of persons who had attended his annual UFO conferences in Connecticut.
How then, (one might ask), is it possible to arrive at only 97 respondents who have had a UFO-like experience and a total of only 136 UFO-category respondents?
Strieber has previously claimed that the Communion Foundation recorded over three thousand narratives of experience out of the nearly forty thousand... received. ""["The Communion Letter" - Farewell, Spring 1991; Vol. 3, No. 1. 1991, Wilson and Neff, Inc.] Should we assume that each of Strieber's respondents had _TEN_ experiences and that only _ONE PERCENT_ of them responded? (Generally, pollsters get a 10 percent response rate.)
Actually we must assume an even smaller contribution from Strieber's respondents or we must conclude that Ring received no help whatsoever from the above-mentioned contributors...
This distribution is statistically unsatisfactory but it does not constitute the fatal flaw in his project.
The UFOE and UFOC group responses were then separated into the following five subgroups:
1. Interested in UFOs only or had a psychologically nonimpactful sighting. 39 responses.
2. Any physical trace case-based response or a psychologically impactful sighting. 20 responses.
3. Any response which contained a narrative suggestive of or that specifically stated an encounter with humanoid beings that DID NOT represent an abduction. 21 responses.
4. A _single_ abduction experience with or without narrative associated with a sighting. 38 responses.
5. All _multiple_ abduction experiences. _PLUS_ any dreamlike and/or telepathic encounters. 18 responses. ""[pg. 125]
Given that Ring claims that UFO event experiencers are apparently already sensitive to nonordinary realities ""[pg. 129] and that they are already oriented that way as children ""[pg. 137]; coupled with the excrutiating lack of laboratory evidence to support his otherwise unsupportable claims, one must question his choice of the above-mentioned UFO categories. Now we must add to this Ring's claim that there appears to be considerable evidence that our encounter-prone persons are likely to be characterized by greater than average temporal-lobe sensitivity. ""[pg 207.]
At this point most critical readers would have (or probably should have) abandoned hope of making sense of Ring's claims and highly capricious and whimsical choice of statistical methodology.
Regarding subgroup #1 is Ring actually suggesting that mere interest in UFological matters constitutes evidence of the alleged encounter-prone personality? If he honestly means to identify such a psychological trait then why aggregate UFO sighting witnesses with those who are simply curious about the subject matter?
Ring claims to understand and appreciate the standard abduction narrative, and he cites reference to what should represent voluminous testimony thereto, yet he intentionally aggregates multiple abduction experiences (a cornerstone in the Hopkins/Jacobs classic abduction scenario) with virtually any dream-like or trance-like experience while segregating all single abduction events into a separate category. This strategy makes no sense to anyone even tangentially familiar with only the popular literature - and Ring claims to be privy to much more than just the popular literature...
Having mangled beyond repair the already miniscule statistical sample, Ring states: Those reporting abduction episodes are _not_ a psychologically distinct group compared to others who had had different UFO-related experiences. ""[Emphasis Ring.] This then, to no small surprise, leads Ring to combine _all_ of our experiential groups into a single large group (n = 97) in order to contrast it with our UFO control group (n = 39). ""[Emphasis Ring.]
Ring concludes his assault on reason thusly: With the problem of the UFO respondents resolving itself so neatly, it is now possible to proceed with the analyses of real substantive interest. ""[pg. 126]
It is clearly not possible to make sense of what follows in The Omega Project because there are literally no reference points remaining with which to distinguish dreams from trances from abductions from even misidentified nocturnal light sightings!
Ring's conclusions, which he apparently was incapable of arriving at without the considerable help an independent laboratory scientist (Persinger) and a philosopher (Grosso), leave everything to be desired.
Philosophers are allowed to invent unprovable notions such as the Mind at Large and scientists are allowed to speculate on the meaning of independently reproducible laboratory experiments. Ring appears to be incapable of functioning independently in either capacity and this represents the fatal flaw in the otherwise interesting work.