Closer To Reality: Those Little Grey Aliens

The concept of the ‘Greys’ as a ‘flesh-and-blood’ complement to the metallic UFO is associated with the Roswell UFO event (July 1947) but that aspect only surfaced over thirty years later. The Roswell event, with or without ‘Greys’ had been buried and forgotten until resurrected in the early 1980’s. Meantime the ‘Greys’ came to the fore independently with the UFO abduction phenomena that post-dated Roswell but pre-dated the renewal of the Roswell event as a major UFO case. Though IMHO Roswell is significant even without the ‘Greys’, the ‘Greys’ nevertheless remain a major facet of the modern UFO debate. Speaking of debates, what follows are extracts I had in debating a UFO ETH (ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis) sceptic about the ‘Greys’.

Regarding the Origin of the ‘Greys’

The story of the Roswell incident only resurfaced after just two days in the public eye (minus alien bodies) in July 1947 with the publication of “The Roswell Incident” by Charles Berlitz* & William Moore in 1980, meaning that the powers-that-be nearly got away with the Roswell cover-up and deception. But they didn’t count on eye-witnesses coming out of the closet when they already had one foot in the grave and therefore had little to fear from Uncle Sam and violations of their security oaths.

Now the really interesting thing is that the first alien abduction case in the USA to get publicity – the Betty and Barney Hill case – came to light in 1966 (“The Interrupted Journey” by John G. Fuller). Betty and Barney Hill did not know about Roswell, and certainly not about any possible Roswell alien bodies. Yet, their description of the aliens who allegedly abducted them for over two hours match perfectly with the post 1980 revelations and descriptions of the Roswell aliens. Mr. Sceptic may not have observed this as “serious evidence” but the Roswell witnesses and Betty & Barney Hill certainly did. Please explain this curious coincidence! Sceptics will counter that the “Greys” are engrained in our pop-culture, therefore no coincidence need be entered into.

Calling all sceptics, please name me one movie, one TV show, one comic book, one sci-fi novel, one anything which featured the classic ‘Grey’ alien prior to the Betty and Barney Hill encounter and subsequent publicity in 1966. Sure, pop-culture featured many an extraterrestrial, but not the ‘Greys’, at least not prior to 1966. Betty and Barney Hill’s ‘Greys’ were not influenced by pop-culture. Perhaps if there had been such an influence the Hill’s would have reported Gort or Robbie-the-Robot or The Blob or the Martians from the first film version of “The War of the Worlds”.

*I should point out for the sake of accuracy that Stanton Friedman was an un-credited co-author of the 1980 tome “The Roswell Incident”. The Berlitz name was basically tacked on for its public recognition and PR value. Berlitz contributed virtually nothing to the contents that required leg-work and chin-wagging.


In terms of the public perception, yes, the Betty and Barney Hill 1966 abduction event saw the first real association of aliens or extraterrestrials or ET as being something akin to what we now call the ‘Greys’. That does NOT negate the testimony of Roswell witnesses that what they observed were ‘Grey’ aliens. But that association didn’t surface in the public’s eye until 1980. So, all I’m saying is that Roswell could NOT have had any influence on the Betty and Barney Hill case. The Betty and Barney Hill event was not contaminated by any previous perception of aliens in the form of the ‘Greys’.

Let’s examine this further. I’ve looked through all my sci-fi in film and on TV books and I can’t find one illustration of a cinema ‘Grey’ prior to 1966, just extraterrestrials who are nearly always human in appearance or actors in ‘alien’ rubber suits. 1966 was of course when the Betty and Barney Hill abduction case became public knowledge, albeit the abduction was in 1961. In fact even the 1975 telemovie of that event, “The UFO Incident” obviously featured actors in costume and didn’t look very much like the ‘Greys’ at all. There were no ‘Greys’ in either Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. I can’t recall a single ‘Grey’ on “The Outer Limits” or on “The Twilight Zone” or on “Science Fiction Theatre”.

Perhaps had Betty and Barney Hill been British, then no doubt their encounter with alien abductors would have been Triffids or Daleks or Cybermen or the Ice Warriors or Sontarans, the Zarbi or one (or more) of those Quartermass alien beasties. Or maybe not.

Actually the Hill’s weren’t conversant with sci-fi at all. If you have to pick a stereotype least likely to come up with an alien ‘Grey’ abduction scenario it would akin to that represented by Betty and Barney Hill.


My sceptical ‘friend’, Mr. Sceptic, suggested that the concept of the ‘Greys’ extended back to the earliest days of science fiction and thus humankind were already saturated with that image. Wow. Alas, that’s pure bovine fertilizer. Does Mr. Sceptic really think some cited minor references he came up with from 1893 and 1901 (albeit one by H.G. Wells) so saturated the sci-fi world that the “Greys” became the be-all-and-end-all of what it was to be an extraterrestrial?

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I quite agree that H.G. Wells, along with however Jules Verne, were the fathers of modern science fiction. Perhaps Mary Shelley of “Frankenstein” fame was the mother, or great grandmother since she pre-dated Wells and Verne by many decades. Anyway, I’m sure the cited 1893 article and the 1901 novel “The First Men In The Moon” by Wells were required reading in all English literature classes for all American students and thus American culture was saturated with all things ‘Grey’. Or perhaps not. A British essay, even from H.G. Wells from 1893 is hardly going to expand its influence and permeate American culture in 1947 – really now; let’s get real.

By the way, the film version of “The First Men in the Moon” features aliens which bore no similarity to the ‘Greys’ in any shape, manner or form.

Sure, H.G. Wells is famous, but not overly for the two works Mr. Sceptic cited. “The War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine” and “The Invisible Man” rank heads and shoulders above in the overall perception of the reading and cinema going public, none of which features the classic ‘Greys’.

The bottom line however is that 1947 America was not consumed with the ‘Greys’ or even with issues of bug-eyed-monsters ravishing terrestrial women as oft seen on the covers of the pulps, or of the future evolution of the human species, or of anything overly extraterrestrial, this being many years before the start of the “space race”. There is no logical reason for military personnel (Roswell) nor an average middle-aged couple (the Hills) to have all of those alleged defining characteristics Mr. Sceptic noted as part and parcel of aliens on the brain; even in their subconscious.

Even if you read all of the works of the mainstream sci-fi authors from ‘The Golden Age’ of science fiction (1920’s – 1950’s) – Asimov, Clarke, Burroughs, Simak, Heinlein, etc. you won’t find descriptions of aliens that resemble the ‘Greys’.

The bottom line is that American society was not consumed with encounters with the ‘Greys’ or aliens of any kind prior to 1947. The 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” that scared the pants off of some listeners had long since been forgotten and consigned to history and war nerves. Roswell could not have influenced the Hill’s event and obviously the Hill’s event could not have had any bearing on the Roswell incident, yet both have ‘Greys’ as their EBEs (Extraterrestrial Biological Entities). Coincidence? I think not. Rather it’s another bit of evidence for the UFO ETH (ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis).


Regarding pop-culture, I checked with three of my books about aliens in sci-fi, which were:

“Alien Creatures” [in cinema and literature] by Richard Siegel & J-C Suares (1978);

“Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great Aliens from Science Fiction Literature” by Wayne Barlowe & Ian Summers (1980); and

“Science Fiction Aliens” [a Starlog Photo Guidebook] by Ed Naha (1977).

Alas, the closest I came to a ‘Grey’ other than the films “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) and “The UFO Incident” (the 1975 telemovie of the Hill’s abduction), was with the 1978 film “Laserblast”. Clearly that could not have been an inspiration either for the Roswell ‘Greys’ nor the Hill’s ‘Greys’.

When is the first time the ‘Greys’ achieved an awareness within the conscious mind of Mr. & Mrs. Joe & Mary Public? It was no doubt after 1966 assuming they heard/read about the Betty and Barney Hill incident; after 1980 if they heard/read about the resurrection of the Roswell event. However, I’d argue that there were two other later and far more important defining moments in terms of public awareness about the ‘Greys’.

The first was the conclusion to the film CE3K, or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) – which contained no reference to Roswell at all for obvious reasons though it probably would have had it been made after 1980 – which was seen by multi-millions.

The second was the cover dust jacket image on Whitley Strieber’s book “Communion: A True Story” (1987). Apparently no other book cover image has ever had the effect, the resonance with the public that that image (of a ‘Grey’ alien) had. It had a resonance far beyond anything that a Jung archetype image (if there really is such a thing) could have had. The great unwashed identified with it in spades, which speaks volumes about the reality of the ‘Greys’ and their association, even subconsciously, with the general public. I’d be very surprised if some Ph.D. student(s) in cultural anthropology, psychology or sociology didn’t focus on that as his or her thesis.

Of course neither the CE3K film nor the Strieber book could have had any bearing on the Roswell ‘Greys’.


The image of the ‘Greys’ is certainly ingrained in our (western civilization) culture now, and I’ve given examples of why, although that was not the case just prior to Roswell (1947) and the Betty and Barney Hill encounter (1961) which occurred five years prior to the subsequent publicity (1966). Now the question is, are the ‘Greys’ an archetype ingrained within our mental facilities like many phobias, or, are they really real?

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Mr. Sceptic’s interpretation of the ‘Greys’ is that they are ingrained in our subconscious, perhaps a relatively recent development, perhaps something way more ancient. They are an archetype. My interpretation is that they are not all-in-the-mind but that they are something real of structure and substance. Mr. Sceptic unfortunately fails; I succeed. Why? Because Mr. Sceptic cannot appeal to anything sociological or cultural or anthropological or psychological to explain away the Roswell ‘Greys’ since they had a physical slab-in-the-lab reality that required the Roswell base personnel to arrange for child-sized coffins be sent to the base by the local Roswell funeral home prior to transport to “higher authority”. Mr. Sceptic could no more do that by way of explanation than you could appeal to a feline archetype and mythology to explain away that cat sitting and purring its little heart out on your lap.

The most popular image of the extraterrestrial or the alien in 1947, assuming that the great unwashed kept such an image in their consciousness or even their subconscious, would have been the BEM – Bug-Eyed-Monster – bent on conquest and ravishing young women. The image of the nasty ‘alien’ would have been re-enforced by the very recent perceptions of how ‘alien’ Imperial Japan was and the ‘alien’ culture/philosophy of Nazi Germany and the now ‘alien’ communistic society of the Soviet Union, which was now the Cold War ‘enemy’ and you had to beware not Martians invading but reds-under-the-bed. In 1947 America anything that was not White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant (WASP) and speaking English was ‘alien’ and probably nasty. ‘Greys’ never entered their mind. They had enough else to worry about and keep them awake at night and provide nightmares when they did fall asleep. Yet it was the ‘Greys’ that surfaced and in a military setting no less (Roswell). Therefore, the ‘Greys’ are not a product of the mind. Even the USAF was forced to try and explain away the ‘Greys’ of Roswell as something prosaic (i.e. – crash test dummies), yet again something else with physical reality.


The ‘Greys’ cannot be an archetype product generated by the mind since 1) in the case of Roswell the RAAF had to order in child-sized coffins to ship the ‘Greys’ out in and 2) in the case of the Hill’s encounter, well that happened in open countryside while they were wide awake. Sceptics have not adequately explained any sort of pop-culture connection and its all-in-the-mind explanation for the ‘Greys’, so IMHO that’s yet another case of sceptics, including Mr. Sceptic, who just talk-the-talk.

Regarding Films of ‘Alien Autopsies’: Those Roswell ‘Greys’

Anyone and everyone remotely familiar with the Roswell ‘Greys’ knows about those famous or infamous ‘alien autopsy’ film featuring the Roswell ‘Greys’ – or actually ‘Grey’. Fact or fiction?

Much as it pains me to say this, you can’t always believe everything you see on TV. For that matter, you can’t always believe everything you read either. One basic reason is this. Television (like publishing) tends to be a for-profit enterprise. The name of the game is MONEY and PROFIT. The name of the game is to pull in the viewers. If viewers aren’t watching there’s no advertising revenue forthcoming and so the show gets the boot. It’s a cut-throat business. One way of course to pull in the viewers is to sensationalize the subject matter way beyond what the actual evidence justifies. If the program doesn’t offer up some alternative or sceptical points of view then the presentation is biased and one-sided. Whenever you see sensational stuff like this, do some independent research and fact-finding and fact-checking. Many a sensational claim dissolves into nothingness when put under the independent investigative microscope.


The current state-of-the-art when it comes to computer-generated imagery (CGI) is that it is impossible for the average viewer to be able to distinguish reality from CGI. In the last five or so years I’ve watched many a movie, even a TV series, where it was impossible for me to tell what was obviously special effects from reality. I’m really in awe of the special effects industry. They can simulate just about anything, if not everything. I’m just not convinced by that ‘alien autopsy’ footage. But as I’ve already said, Roswell is an extremely significant UFO event even without any ‘Grey’ connection.

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by John Prytz