Is There Anything Out There?
According to a recent Roper poll, an estimated 19 million Americans say they have seen an unidentified flying object, or UFO. Another 4 million people claim they have been abducted by alien spacecraft (Clark 267). Can all of these people be wrong?
According to the Chicago based J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Research: “the majority of sightings generally prove to be a misinterpretation of natural phenomena meteors, planets, stars, odd clouds or manmade objects such as airplanes, balloons or satellites. Smaller number of reports cannot be investigated properly for various reasons lack of pertinent details, for example, or inaccessibility of witnesses. However, in any given number of UFO reports, about 5 percent to 10 percent are truly puzzling These cases are considered true UFO reports (Clark 275).”
Numerous sightings can be explained or have been a hoax, but what about the other 5 to 10 percent that cannot be explained? Although the majority of UFO sightings and abductions can the explained, the existence of extraterrestrials and UFOs is a legitimate possibility that should be taken seriously by the public.
What is a UFO? Edward U. Condon, the head of the largest single scientific project ever undertaken about the UFO problem, has his own definition. Condon says, “A UFO is the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky (or an object thought to be capable of flying but seen when landed on the earth) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin” (Scientific).
The UFO debate is not a new one. Evidence shows ancient civilizations may have been in contact with them. Theorists attribute many of the ancient wonders to be formed with the help of extraterrestrials. Examples of these are Stonehenge in England, pyramids in Egypt, the Mayan ruins, as well as others. The argument is that there is no way these civilizations could construct such marvelous monuments without some type of help. There has also been evidence published that UFOs were seen during the time of Charlemagne in the 8th century: “During the reign of Charlemagne, spacecraft took away some of he earth’s inhabitants to show them something of the way of life of space people. There events are described in the Comte de Gabalis’ Discourses. However, when the space craft returned bringing back the Earth people they had taken away, the population were convinced that they were actual members of the spacecraft whom they regarded as sorcerers” (Scientific).
The first widely publicized modern abduction was in 1961 when Betty and Barney Hill were abducted in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Hopkins 5). The Hills saw a light hovering and approaching their car. They pulled off the road for a closer look. Barney could see occupants of the ship staring back at him through a horizontal row of windows. The next thing they knew, they were driving along the original route, not knowing how they got there. They looked at the clock in their car, and realized two hours had passed since they had originally stopped the car. They had no memory of the previous two hours.
In the weeks that followed, Barney suffered from anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares. He eventually sought help from a psychiatrist, who thought he was suffering from some kind of repressed trauma he did not remember. Dr. Benjamin Simon performed several hypnotic sessions with Mr. Hill. In the sessions, Barney recalled what happened in the missing two hours. He and his wife had been somehow paralyzed, and taken aboard the UFO. Then, some type of physical examination was separately done on each of them. Dr. Simon used posthypnotic suggestion to make sure Barney would not remember anything about the material recovered once the trance ended. This is important, because there is no way Barney could have talked to Betty about the details of what he said about the story. “When Betty Hill was later regressed, she knew nothing of her husband’s recollections, so her congruent descriptions of the craft, its interior and its occupants were extremely important” (Hopkins 5). Betty described the same story down to the details of the ship that Barney had told, without previous knowledge of what Barney had said.
According to UFO investigator Budd Hopkins, abductees tend to have more than one experience (7). The first usually happens at the age of six or seven. They are picked up and examined a few times a year until they reach their forties. It seems aliens are tagging humans the way we tag animals, and use them as experimental subjects requiring reexamination throughout a certain number of years (Hopkins 7).
Another interesting fact Hopkins brings up is the relationship between the abductees’ scars. Three abductees, unknown to each other, contacted Hopkins about their experiences. They provided pictures of scars they claim were caused by the experimentation of aliens. The three people had the exact same scars. There were three small, straight scars on the backs of their calves. The reasons for the incisions are unknown, but Hopkins suggests a cell sampling operation of some sort. Twenty-seven other abductees, who also did not know each other, had also contacted him and had very similar scars, though their scars varied in shape and size.
Skeptics call abductees like Betty and Barney Hill, and the ones mentioned above crazy and delusional. This simply isn’t true. According to tests done on abductees in 1993 by a team of psychologists at Carlton University, “They tend to be white-collar, relatively well-educated representatives of the middle class” (Clarke 282). Timothy Good, author of the book Above Top Secret further adds:
a very large number of sightings have been vouched for by persons whose credentials seem to me unimpeachable. It is striking that so many have been trained observers such as police officers and airline or military pilots. Their observations have in many instancesbeen supported either by technical means such as radar or, even more convincingly, by visible evidence of the condition of the observers and this is common to many events interference with electrical apparatus of one sort or another. (O’Neill 59)
Apparently, those that report seeing UFOs and being abducted by aliens cannot just be grouped as crazy. Pilots, for example, are usually educated, stable people that are trained to observe. According to former NASA research scientist Dr. Richard Haine, there are more than 3000 reported cases of UFO sightings from military, private, and airline pilots (Koss 7). They are trained to see things in the sky. Pilots must have keen eyesight; they also learn about natural astronomical events often mistaken as UFOs. They can detect if the object seen is a weather balloon, military plane, or a plane with an uncommon shape.
Although there is evidence that people have been seeing UFOs for thousands of years, the first modern sightings began in the 1940s. “The first sightings occurred when Allied bomber pilots reported that strange balls of light and disc-shaped objects followed them as they flew over Germany and Japan. The American pilots dubbed these UFOs foo-fighters” (Jacobs 35). At first, the pilots thought they were either German or Japanese secret weapons. They were confused because the unidentified flying objects were not hostile. Later, after the war, the Germans and Japanese claimed they saw the same phenomenon and explained them as Allied secret weapons. The U.S. Army then made an investigation on the sightings, and concluded “they were the product of mass hallucination” (Jacobs 36). The army was not very concerned with them at that time because they were not hostile.
During this time, from 1946 to 1948, there was also a massive wave of sightings in Western Europe. Claims were made not only by military pilots, but also by civilians. Witnesses in Finland, near the Soviet border, saw “strange, cigar-shaped objects” (Jacobs 36). The U.S. military became curious, in fear the “ghost rockets”, as they were called, were secret Russian weapons (Jacobs 36). Army intelligence did an investigation, and concluded 80 % of the cases could be explained as “misidentification or natural phenomenon”, but could not explain the other 20% (Jacobs 36). They further concluded that there was a very small possibility the objects seen were secret weapons.
The UFO sighting rave in Europe coincided with the modern era of sightings in the United States. A “reputable” pilot named Kenneth Arnold was flying a private plane from Chehalis to Yakima, Washington and saw a disk-shaped object he described as, “a saucer skipping over water” (Jacobs 37). This is important because his description influenced writers to refer to UFOs as flying saucers, which has stuck ever since. This particular sighting is also important because Arnold’s admirable reputation caused the public to see the event as a wonder and a serious news item; instead of seeing it with skepticism. The Arnold story encouraged people all over the country to report sightings of strange things in the sky. Ted Bloecher, an independent UFO investigator, studied the 1947 wave of sightings and found that 850 sightings were reported that year; one of the largest sighting years on record (Jacobs 37).
Other than actual sightings, there has also been physical evidence of the existence of UFOs. The famous “Condon Report” of the 1960s, headed by Edward U. Condon, did an extensive study on the possibility of the existence of UFOs. They reported two types of physical evidence: material residue supposedly deposited by UFOs, and “saucer nest”. The supposed residue of UFOs is described as “filaments resembling spider webs, floating down to earth, hanging from telephone wires and tree branches and forming candy-floss-like streamsthat disintegrate and vanish soon after falling” (Scientific). The composition of the material referred to as “angel hair” is unknown. One of the samples found was tested, and the main component was titanium oxide pigment; which is commonly used in house paint. Very few reports of angel hair have been claimed since the 1960s, so many skeptics feel it is not a valid argument.
The other type of physical evidence known to the public is saucer nests. They are “markings on ground, vegetation, or objects with which a UFO, as something from an UFO, reportedly made direct or indirect physical contact” (Scientific). Saucer nests are fairly common. Photographs of nests consist of areas where “soil, grass, cattails, or other vegetation had been flattened, burned, broken off, or blown away, allegedly by an UFO that hovered there” (Scientific). Several of these sites were investigated, and found to have no hard evidence that proved they were made by aliens, other than the shape of the nests. The sites could have been fabricated by humans, but it could not be proved either way. Other sites, better known as crop circles, have been proved to be outright hoaxes. There were “huge, mysterious saucer-shaped imprints” found in England during the 1980s. The British pranksters had the public fooled for a while, but later confessed in 1991 that they had used boards to flatten the crops (Clark 269).
With all of the evidence that supports the existence of UFOs, it makes the common person wonder; is the government covering up information on UFOs? The topic of UFO government cover-ups and brings up what took place in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. Supposedly two flying saucers collided with one another July 7 (Clark 269). A local rancher called the Roswell Army Air Field with claims that he recovered “unearthly debris and four dead alien bodies” (Clark 267). A statement to the press was let out by Walter Haut, the base press officer, that a “flying disk” had been found. Flurries of news reports were made, and the area was closed to the public. The Air Force’s official statement after the initial statement was that the object found was a weather balloon.
The event at Roswell would have been laid to rest like all the other phenomenon that has happened over the years, but several witnesses came out in the late 1970s with new information. Glenn Dennis, a Roswell mortician, claimed base officials asked him for hermetically sealed caskets. At the hospital he said he saw “strange metallic wreckage with hieroglyphic-like makings” (Clark 269). He was then rushed away and threatened to silence by military police.
Dennis also claimed a nurse, who later disappeared without a trace, told him she helped doctors examine the bodies of three creatures. They were:
three-and-a-half to four feet tall, with disproportionately large headsThe eyes were deeply set; the skulls were flexible; the nose was concave, with two orifices; the mouth was a fine slit, and the doctors said there was heavy cartilage instead of teeth. The ears were only small orifices with flaps. They had no hair, and the skin was black.
Pressure from the public prompted the Air Force and GOA (General Accounting Office) to release recent reports concerning Roswell. The Air Force now claim the debris was a “top secret radar balloon designed to measure atomic testing by the Soviet Union” (Clark 271). GAO added from their own report: “In our search for records concerning the Roswell crash, we learned that some government records covering activities had been destroyed. The debate on what crashed at Roswell continues.” (Clark 271)
In any case, no common person really knows whether or not the government is withholding information or not.Some ask why the government would cover up such an extraordinary event. Richard Hall, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-area Fund for UFO Research claims the motive for a cover-up is the Cold War. “If a UFO crashes in Roswell, the chain of command is going to ask what it all means and they’re going to try to reproduce the vehicle’s powers system before our enemies do. He also claims the government withheld information because it would “cause panic or upset whole economies. The incident was handled by military, not scientific, officials, which means they may have felt the public couldn’t deal with it.” (Clark 271)
Despite millions of claims of abductions and sightings, there is no undisputable, hardcore evidence available to the public that proves aliens exist. Even so, there is enough evidence to conclude that aliens and UFOs cannot just be classified as science fiction. There is a real possibility that, as quoted in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “We are not alone.” The existence of UFOs and aliens is a legitimate possibility and should be taken seriously by the public. The search for the truth continues.
Clark, Charles S. “Pursuing the Paranormal” CQ Researcher. March (1996): 267-283
Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Dir. Steven Spielberg. With Richard Dreyfuss and Francois Treffaut. Columbia/Tristar Studios, 1977.
Hopkins, Budd. Intruders. New York: Random House, 1987
Jacobs, David Michael. UFO Controversy in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975
Koss, Larry. If UFO’s Are Real. Mankato, Minnesota: Capston Press, 1991
O’Neill, Terry. Paranormal Phenomena. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991
“Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects.” Jan. 1999. University of Colorado. Mar. 25(2003)