Researches ideas: When the abduction phenomenon began
Apart from these familiar debunking criticisms, clarity of thought is sometimes difficult to obtain within the UFO and abduction research community. The developing evidence has led researchers to rethink certain aspects of it. For example, researchers originally thought that abductions were basically of adults and that they were extremely rare. We now know that the phenomenon begins in infancy and continues into old age. Adult-onset single-events are extremely rare, usually occurring in circumstances in which a person is abducted because of being in close proximity to an abductee -- and even then, we cannot be sure both abducted people are not "unaware abductees" (the majority of abductees are unaware of their experiences) We can now surmise that the abduction phenomenon is extremely common. There are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of abductees in the world.
Many researchers think that the abduction phenomenon is very old, perhaps beginning hundreds (or thousands) of years ago. They find evidence for it in cave paintings, folklore, myth, art, and so forth. Although whether they existed on earth in ancient times is basically unknowable, recently developed theoretical arguments about the abduction phenomenon have given us a new possibility to more accurately date its origins.
We have very strong evidence that the abduction phenomenon is intergenerational. Budd Hopkins first discovered this in 1981. If a person is an abductee then the possibility that his her mother or father has had abduction experiences is extremely high. Unfortunately, this means that all of the children of an abductee and a non-abductee will be abductees. Because of this, we can, with reasonable assurance, trace the phenomenon backward through the generations. By interviewing family members about their parents' and grandparents' unusual personal experiences, we can date the phenomenon back to the late 1890s and then we lose sight of it. This techniques gives us indications that the abduction phenomenon is most likely around one hundred years old.
But there are other indications as well. Because of the intergenerational quality, the phenomenon spreads, cone-like, into the population through the generations. If it continues long enough -- based on the initial number of people who were selected to be abducted -- eventually everyone in America (or the world if the beginning populations was widespread and large enough), will be an abductee. If the phenomenon started in America with, say, one million individuals, how long would it take for everyone to be an abductee? The answer, according to a mathematician who worked it out, is seven generations. Obviously the time would be longer if the initial abductee population was smaller. If the number was substantial, however, it would not take long for it to spread throughout the population.
But, we are not all abductees. Therefore, the abduction phenomenon, as it is presently understood, could not have started in ancient times. Nor could have it started in the sixteenth century, and probably not the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. If it did start in these periods, a vastly larger percentage of the population, if not everyone, would be abductees. The fact that we are not all abductees automatically means that the abduction phenomenon could not have started very much before the late 19th century.