Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs are precisely that; unidentified. Therefore, the crux of the debate is actually whether or not they are extraterrestrial.
Let’s also acknowledge that “belief” is irrelevant. Either UFOs are extraterrestrial or they are not. Individual belief has nothing to do with it. Until there is physical evidence in one direction or another, all discussions are simply speculations on their particular origins.
So, we have two choices. The first is that there is a perfectly reasonable terrestrial explanation for what people have observed, or the alternative, that these “sightings” are the result of alien visitors from another world.
Let me also state that suggesting a terrestrial explanation does not amount to calling people liars, nor anything derogatory. The fact that after all this time these sightings are unidentified does not render a judgment on the observer.
There is ample evidence that many governments operate secret programs, primarily from the military, that engage in research that could result in sightings which are ultimately denied by authorities. While this explanation may be less exciting than the alternatives, we have to consider this as a real possibility when looking for the answers.
However, let’s also look at this from the perspective of an alien civilization that would visit the earth.
Here we have a civilization that clearly has expended enormous resources and time to build the spacecraft and bring exploratory equipment to a distant planet. Since the observed “craft” would be incapable of interstellar flight, we must conclude that they exist solely for the purposes of exploring the earth, while a larger base or spacecraft is responsible for bringing them here.
In addition, given the vast distances involved in space, this is not a trivial undertaking. So this alien civilization would have to make a huge commitment in the travel time, energy, and resources to what end? . to remain secret?
Programs, like SETI, have been there for decades looking for alien space signals, with the express purpose of communicating with extraterrestrial civilizations. However, these programs have not only failed to pick up such signals, but they have also failed to detect signals with a closer proximity, such as those required by a nearby planetary base. Yet it would seem improbable that a civilization that went to such lengths to actually travel here, would be so silent in response to our search for signals.
Now we could certainly introduce a vast government conspiracy to keep such information from us, but then we’d be back to the first point which suggests that any such conspiracy would be more inclined to keep their own developments from us. In addition, it isn’t just a single government that would have to be conspiring in this, so it renders the plausibility of such a scenario more suspect. This would now require a world-wide conspiracy.
Many people have also attempted to attribute motivations that are altruistic to such alien visitors, but this is clearly speculative and based more on wishful thinking than any possible knowledge.
We also have to consider that aliens exploring the earth would be exposed to earth-borne microbes, as well as the possibility that they could introduce some of their own in an environment ill-prepared to cope with them. Once again, is there anything that has happened on this planet that remotely resembles such an event?
Every time an unidentified phenomenon is encountered, does not grant free license to the observer to make up whatever fanciful notions they have to explain the incident. Lights are not aircraft. Movements don’t always describe intent.
It is clear to me that whatever I say will not dissuade those individuals that have already accepted the idea that alien visitors are here. However, it is also clear that people don’t like leaving things in the category called “unknown”, so there is a compulsion to find an explanation, regardless of how implausible, to account for their experience. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we don’t know what something was.
Just as the saying says “every cloud has a silver lining”, we should be careful to not draw the conclusion that the silver lining is necessarily an alien spacecraft.