What You Should Know About Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley’s Ben Hansen

Since 2020, the Travel Channel has been cranking out a series of two-hour films they cheekily promote under the umbrella “Shock Docs” — documentaries designed to highlight some of the locations around the United States with the richest and most documented histories of paranormal activity. Previous episodes have highlighted the homes of Roland Doe (the possessed boy who inspired “The Exorcist”), the Amityville Horror house, and the home of Ed Gein (the serial killer who inspired “Psycho”). “Alien Invasion: Hudson Valley,” however, is the first time the series has taken a look at UFOs and extraterrestrials.

According to the new episode’s promotional materials (via Travel Channel), while many may consider Area 51 the UFO capital of the nation, New York’s Hudson Valley is actually a strong contender for the title as well, with more than 3,000 alien encounters reported there in the last decade alone. And while it would have been easy to simply report on these things, “Hudson Valley” elects to take a much more hands-on approach, recruiting paranormal veteran Ben Hansen and others to bring cutting-edge equipment to the Valley to really investigate whether aliens are, indeed, visiting the Empire State on a regular basis.

But who even is this Ben Hansen guy, and why should we care what he has to say about aliens? Let’s take a look at the man behind the Shock Doc.

Ben Hansen's incredible résumé: everything from scuba to criminology

Ben Hansen’s website features a list of credentials so extensive and varied that it’s almost as hard to believe as the paranormal claims he’s made a career out of investigating. Prior to working on “Hudson Valley,” Hansen helped create the SyFy series “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files,” which was a sort of “MythBusters” for supernatural claims. His team would attempt to recreate paranormal phenomena through naturalistic means to test whether claims about them were plausible. More recently, he went on to create the Discovery series “UFO Witness,” which took a deep dive into alien phenomena.

Beyond his work in television, though, Hansen has been involved in almost everything else. He’s a licensed seaplane pilot and falconer, a certified scuba diver, a search-and-rescue dog handler, an emergency medical technician, and an Eagle Scout. He’s got a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in abnormal psychology, plus a certification in criminology and corrections, and previously worked as an investigator for the Utah County Sex Crimes Task Force (he says that his investigative experience influences his somewhat-more-skeptical approach to paranormal documentary filmmaking). In addition to all that, Hansen apparently also owns two equipment manufacturing companies — one that specializes in night vision and one that makes “bulletproof backpacks,” which we just now found out were a thing — in addition to volunteering with FEMA and the Red Cross.

Honestly, if even half of this résumé is accurate … we’re still exhausted just from reading it.

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