One Third of Americans Believe in UFOs, But They Aren’t All Looking For the Same Thing
Article by Starre Vartan April 24, 2020 (mnn.com)
• Belief in UFOs is at a high point. A 2019 Gallup poll showed that 33% of Americans “believe that some UFO sightings over the years have in fact been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies.” After the New York Times ran a front-page story detailing a US Department of Defense UFO program along with several reports of UFO sightings by the US Navy, the head of the Pentagon program, Luis Elizondo, said, “In my opinion, if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ I hate to use the term UFO, but that’s what we’re looking at… [O]ne has to ask the question ‘where they’re from’?”
• In her book, They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers, author Sarah Scoles delves into the people behind the science, philosophy and conspiracy theories of UFOs. Scoles spoke to attendees at the annual UFO Congress; she traveled to famous UFO sites such as Roswell, Area 51, and Skinwalker Ranch. Her research revealed that not everyone in the UFO community holds common beliefs. While younger millennials were excited about ‘proof’ of extraterrestrial UFOs, older generations were more skeptical.
• Scoles says that a “large minority” within the UFO community are actually “science-minded” who look for “good explanations” for UFO sightings. “I was surprised to find the moderate types,” said Scoles. This group tends to use science to understand, explain, explore or disprove the idea of alien life, comparable to mainstream astronomers and scientists.
• Another subset of UFO enthusiasts are those who treat the idea of extraterrestrials as a kind of secular religion. They see the possibility of advanced alien life as a sign of hope. If a technologically-advanced extraterrestrial civilization has been able to survive, then humanity may also be able to overcome our challenges and keep moving toward the stars. Although we live in perilous times, there can still be positive visions of humanity’s future. “[A]liens could be a model for us,” says Scoles.
• Scoles noted those who experience ‘the sweet allure of the unknown’. She writes about a friend who found himself in a local bar in a small Iowa town where he brought up the subject of “spook lights” that had been reported nearby. The bar patrons were excited to tell a stranger what they had seen. “There was (still) some mystery and magic” here in this small town.
• Some people fear the idea of aliens and see them as an existential threat,” says Scoles. But others base their belief in UFOs almost entirely on their conviction that governments or authoritative groups have been “hiding aliens or their classified technology”, and covering up the alien presence for years.
• Finally, some people simply consider the number of stars and habitable planets in our galaxy and universe and deem life on other planets as not just theoretically possible but highly probable. The statistical odds are that there must be intelligent life outside Earth, and those life forms have likely visited our planet.
• So with all of these different groups of people interested in extraterrestrial spacecraft and alien civilizations for differing reasons, what unites the UFO community? According to Scoles, across the UFO spectrum, everyone “from skeptics to true believers, is motivated by a sense of wonder, encountering a thing that they don’t know.”
Behind every alleged unidentified flying object sighting, every creepy alien story and every first-contact theory, there’s a person. An earthling who believes a little — or a lot — in the idea that aliens have visited Earth or are trying to.
So who are all these people? Writer Sarah Scoles was interested in finding out, and it’s the people behind the science, philosophy and conspiracy theories of UFOs who she focuses on in her book, “They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers.”
Belief in UFOs is currently at a high point, with a 2019 Gallup poll showing that 33% of Americans “believe that some UFO sightings over the years have in fact been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies.” About 60% of Americans are skeptical and 7% aren’t sure — but 16% of people who answered the poll said they have personally witnessed a UFO.
Those numbers are on the rise again in recent years due, in part, to a bombshell of an article published in December 2017 by The New York Times. A front-page story detailed a five-year program at the Pentagon call the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). That program’s findings included a number of reports of unidentified flying objects. In later interviews, key members of that program offered more detail. As MNN covered at the time, Luis Elizondo, the head of AATIP, told then-Defense Secretary James Mattis: “In my opinion, if this was a court of law, we have reached the point of ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ I hate to use the term UFO, but that’s what we’re looking at,” said Elizondo. “I think it’s pretty clear this is not us, and it’s not anyone else, so one has to ask the question where they’re from.”
Contrary to what might be assumed, many in the UFO community were skeptical of this news, though author Scoles said this was interestingly divided by generation, with older people more skeptical and Millennials excited to hear confirmation, a divide that got Scoles interested in the group. She attended the UFO Congress — a huge annual meeting of the UFO-interested — held just a couple months after the Pentagon program’s revelation. She talked to 22 people for her book, and what’s interesting is how different they are from each other; this is no monolithic group.
She traveled to famous sites on the extraterrestrial map, including Roswell, New Mexico and Area 51, the UFO Congress, the Pentagon, Skinwalker ranch in Utah and even meetings of a local UFO group in Denver where she lives. As she dug deeper into UFO society, Scoles discovered there are different reasons and attitudes that get people thinking or obsessing about UFOs.
1:03:25 minute ‘Somewhere in the Skies’ with Ryan Sprague (‘Ryan Sprague’ YouTube)
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