Hilary Evans, a leading British Fortean author and researcher of “marginal human experiences,” died on July 27, 2011. He was the author of many books including Visions, Apparitions, Alien Visitors (1984) and Gods, Spirits Cosmic Guardians (1987). Evans was a founder of what is called the "psychosocial" hypothesis. It attributes the perception of anomalous phenomena such as UFOs, apparitions, etc. to a sort of psychodrama occurring inside the percipient’s head, shaped by society's expectations and beliefs. It is very influential today among British Forteans, many of whom are quite skeptical of the literal truth of paranormal claims.
|Hilary Evans chats with Betty Hill|
Evans and his late wife Mary operated the Mary Evans Picture library in London, a major repository of over one million images. Their private collection of esoteric books and of Victoriana was legendary, and Hilary’s knowledge of “anomalistic” subjects was extraordinary. He met frequently with colleagues, and was responsible for much sharing of information. I met Hilary at the Encounters at Indian Head conference in New Hampshire in 2000, organized to scrutinize the Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction story. He compared the Hills’ novel (at the time) narrative to earlier accounts of otherworldly beings and religious visions, finding many common themes and formulations in both, and suggesting that a “life-crisis” of the percipient was likely the cause. Whenever the trite phrase “a gentleman and a scholar” is used, there can be no better illustration of that ideal than Hillary Evans.