Unidentified flying object
UFO or unidentified flying object, in the original, literal sense means any airborne object whose nature is not readily known. Nowadays, the term is generally used to mean those cases that are believed by some to be the spaceships of extraterrestrial aliens.
The modern interest in UFOs started with a claimed sighting by Kenneth Arnold on June 24 1947, near Mount Rainier, Washington. Though the UFOs he saw were not saucer-shaped, he described their movements as being similar to that of a saucer skipping over water, hence the origin of the term flying saucer. Arnold's claims received significant mainstream attention.
Since the mid-twentieth century, UFOs have been the subject of thousands of books, motion pictures, songs, documentaries and other media, and of numerous hoaxes. UFO topics were amongst the most popular on early computer Bulletin board systems, and millions of people have some degree of interest in the subject.
Typical reported characteristics of UFOs
- Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped craft without visible or audible propulsion. (day and night)
- Rapidly-moving lights or lights with apparent ability to rapidly change direction — the earliest mention of their motion was given as "saucers skipping on water"
- Large triangular craft or triangular light pattern
- Cigar-shaped craft with lighted windows (Meteor trails sometimes appear this way)
The number of different shapes, sizes and configurations of claimed UFOs has been large, with detailed descriptions of chevrons, equilateral triangles, spheres, domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs and cylinders being prevalent. Skeptics argue this diversity of shapes, size and configurations points to a socio-psychological explanation. Professed experiencers and believers reply that the volume of highly detailed sightings reported by witnesses from commercial airline pilots to United States presidents possesses strong consistency and cannot be explained away as mundane phenomena (weather balloons, aircraft, Venus), arguing for the non-conventional interpretation.
Origins of the term "flying saucer"
The nine objects Kenneth Arnold said he saw were not saucer-shaped. Drawings showed something rather boomerang or crescent shaped: more resembling a flying wing style aircraft. However, he described their movement as a kind of skipping, like a saucer skimmed over water. Press reports picked up the "like a saucer" phrase, and reported it as a "flying saucer".
Ufology is the study of UFO reports and evidence.
Most mainstream scientists have found existing UFO evidence unconvincing, and consider such evidence and sightings misidentification of natural phenomena or hoaxes. Some professionals and academics have argued that while current evidence may be lacking, evidence should be evaluated objectively as it arises.
Others — including many amateurs — continue research and consider the extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs a possibility.
Some in the scientific community feel there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation efforts, comparing it to the period in the history of Meteorite research when there was only witness testimony available. But others--perhaps a majority--feel that the subject is a waste of time, due to a number of factors, including unreliable witnesses.
Evidence and Explanations
Some feel that UFO study is still a worthwhile topic because of open questions, especially due to occasional reports of UFOs from professional or military astronomers or pilots: Individuals whose careers and indeed, often their very lives rely on their ability to recognize and assess aircraft, weather conditions, distances and other factors vital to flight. Some Ufologists argue such cases are more difficult to dismiss as misidentification of mundane objects.
Although thousands of UFO sightings have been widely publicised in news columns over the years, the fact that many have subsequently been explained--or at least that proposed explanations have been offered by qualified persons--as natural phenomena or hoaxes has largely been ignored by the media.
There are UFO websites listing claimed sightings, but far fewer listing proposed or confirmed explanations for most of those sightings. The fact that on investigation most UFOs actually become IFOs -- Identified Flying Objects -- seems less newsworthy. While a possible alien visitor is sensational, a mundane explanation is a non-event.
It is sometimes said that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", but many pro-research groups only claim that the topic deserves further investigation, not that UFOs are necessarily alien craft. The threshold of evidence for further investigation is lower than that for a conclusion about the nature of UFOs.
Skeptics say there are indeed genuine sightings of strange flying objects which are usually logically explained, that no physical evidence of an alien spacecraft has ever been produced, and that many claims have been disproven as fraudulent. They also point out that the burden of proof lies with whomever makes a claim, and that it is not up to someone else to disprove each and every piece of evidence believers come up with.
Supporters and conspiracy theorists argue that the subject is prejudiced by ridicule and stigma, that an extremely large body of compelling evidence as yet disproved or effectively countered also exists, including photography, motion video, and multiple independently corroborated sworn affidavits.
Evidence and Supression
Some also contend regarding physical evidence that it exists abundantly but is swiftly and sometimes clumsily suppressed by governmental entities, not always uniform, with a strong agenda to insulate a population they regard as psychologically not yet prepared for the social, theological, and security implications of such a reality. See the Brookings Report.
The study of UFO claims over the years has led to valuable discoveries about atmospheric phenomena and psychology. In psychology, the study of UFO sightings has revealed information on misinterpretation, perceptual illusions, hallucination and fantasy-prone personality which may explain why some people are willing to believe hoaxers such as George Adamski. Many have questioned the reliability of hypnosis in UFO abduction cases.
The field of UFOs does not necessarily overlap the paranormal, although in practice it often does. The UFO phenomenon need not have a paranormal explanation, though some who believe in UFOs also have a fascination with the paranormal.
UFOs are sometimes claimed to be part of an elaborate UFO conspiracy theory in which the government is said to be intentionally covering up the existence of aliens, or sometimes collaborating with them.
There is also the speculation that UFO phenomena are tests of experimental aircraft or advanced weapons. In this case UFO's are viewed as failures to retain secrecy, or deliberate attempts at disinformation: to deride the phenomena so that it can be pursued unhindered. This theory may or may not feed back into the previous one, where current advanced military technology is considered to be adapted alien technology. See also: skunk works and Area 51. This also feeds into the opinion that all or most human technology and culture is based on extraterrestrial contact. See also ancient astronauts
Mystical and religious aspects of UFOs
Much mysticism has arisen around UFOs. Several religions have UFOs as a component of their mythology:
- Unarius Academy of Science: Founded in 1954 by Ernest Norman and Ruth Marian.
- Aetherians: A group founded by a British mystic who claimed to communicate with the Cosmic Master Aetherius
- Order of the Solar Temple: In order to move to somewhere near the star Sirius many believers committed suicide in Europe and Canada in the 90's
- Heaven's Gate: Believers committed suicide in Caifornia in 1997, believing they would be carried off in Comet Hale-Bopp.
- Raelians, who claimed they would clone their leader so he could live forever.
- Scientology: The higher-level beliefs of Scientology include the story of Xenu, a galactic ruler, who brought billions of people to Earth and killed them.
Some have common beliefs around UFOs mixed with Christian elements:
- Heaven: Lights that come from the sky.
- Faith: you have no evidence what UFOs are. You can only see by yourself or believe others.
- Saviour: Superior beings coming out of those lights.
- Apocalypse and redemption: Superior beings coming from the heavens to at the same time destroy civilization as we know and save those few who accept them by carrying those believers in their spacecraft.
- Voices: Many claim to hear voices that might be from spirits, angels or aliens from a distant galaxy.
[[Erich von D�niken]] goes the other way round and states that many old religions were influenced by UFOs. He claims to have found evidence in old Aztec, Inca and ancient Egypt temples that phenomena identified as signs of Gods were the same as actual unidentified flying objects. In his book Were The Gods Astronauts, von D�niken goes farther and states that those objects were in fact alien visitors who landed on Earth a thousand years ago and influenced deeply the birth of civilizations.
Terence McKenna, in contrast, believed that UFOs are manifestations of the human oversoul, or collective spirit. He thought they appeared to individuals and groups in order to exert psychological influence over the course of history. He conjectured that in the year 2012 there might be a global UFO 'visitation'; a great manifestation that would convince humanity to adopt a UFO religion with precepts of universal love and ecologically-sound culture.
- Alien abduction
- Anomalous phenomenon
- Black triangles
- Conspiracy theory
- Crop circle
- List of magazines of anomalous phenomena
- Military flying saucers
- UFO conspiracy theory
- Author of Many UFO And Alien Related books
- The Disclosure Project (nonprofit research project)
- UFO Evidence homepage
- Mutual UFO Network homepage
- The Coalition for Freedom of Information (sponsored by the Sci-Fi Channel)
- Society for Scientific Exploration
- Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)
- National Institute for Discovery Science
- Haisch, Bernard, "UFO Skeptic". Palo Alto, California.
- Verga, Maurizio, "Nazi UFOs & Wonder Weapons".
- "The Phoenix Lights Mystery".
- Jeffrey, Kent, "Roswell: Anatomy of a Myth".
- Landman, Jack, "Mexico City, August 6th, 1997".
- Lindemann, Michael, "Mexico City, August 6, 1997: An Analysis". CNI News.
- Holman, J. L., et. al., "Mexico City, August 6, 1997". UFON. (MOV file format)
- BBC article on Mexican Airforce videotape
- ufoevidence.org: Alien wreckage found at Tunguska, say Russian scientists
- Ruppelt, Edward J. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (Project Bluebook)