In the past, extraterrestrial visitations to Earth were attributed to “flying saucers,” “little green men” and “Martians.” Today, such visitations are atributed to “UFOs,” “alien beings,” “encounters” and “abductions.” By whatever name, it has been happening, or not happening, for a long time and it’s hard to know what to think about the UFO phenomenon:
• Governments have studied it and found there's nothing to it?
• Governments are keeping the startling truth a secret?
• Governments are secretly experimenting with strange craft?
• It’s all a bunch of baloney?
• It’s really true?
• It’s a cover-up?
There’s lots of questions, but I wonder if we’ll ever get any concrete answers.
Actually, I wonder if there are any concrete answers.There are many stories of people having encounters with or being abducted by aliens. It’s easy to write these people off as “nuts” or misguided souls who really “believe” they had an encounter, but in reality did not. Logic would suggest that if a person was abducted from their bed and transported to a spacecraft, surely someone else in that bed or in the house or on the street would have noticed some unusual activity. Often, no one else ever seems to be aware of the event — only the abductee. Seems a little fishy, don’t you think?
So, if they were not abducted, but honestly believe they were, then what’s the explanation? Search me.
I see that there are now some theories relating to: lack of sleep and its effect on the brain, brain changes during sleep, and chemical imbalances that may or may not explain some of this.
On the other hand, some of the abduction cases seem more credible and are hard to reject. They sound strange, of course, but don’t give us immediate reason to be suspicious of fraud or delusion.
Sometimes, the abduction aspects of the UFO phenomenon are so hard to believe that you feel sort of embarrassed to show an interest in something so “weird.” This embarrassment and disbelief tends to spill over and cast suspicion on the whole subject of UFOs in general.
Old TV shows, such as Sightings and Encounters, were intriguing, but their show-bizzy “re-creations” of UFO and alien encounters share programming with stories of the “para-normal,” which are equally difficult to accept. All of this material sometimes gets lumped together in your mind as far-out stuff that you can’t take seriously.
Currently, one of the networks is running a series called Ancient Aliens. Fascinating, but maybe a little over the top? They seem to attribute alien influence to almost everything that ever happened! Really? Are we going to buy that theory? If nothing else, it certainly gets you thinking.
But is skepticism a fair assessment? There are lots of sightings of strange lights and/or craft that can’t be explained away logically. Certainly, most are airplanes, planets, meteors, optical and/or alcohol-induced illusions, hoaxes, swamp gas, weather balloons or wishful thinking. But some seem to be legitimate unexplained events. And when there are many credible witnesses, you start to question your skepticism about some areas of the UFO phenomenon.
It certainly would make the puzzle a lot simpler if the aliens would simply land in Assiniboine Park and hold a news conference, annoucing: “Hi. Here we are. We’ve come a long way. Can we use your bathroom? Yes, we were the UFOs you were seeing all those years ago. We've been watching you. Come on board and look around. You earthlings are pretty weird. What’s with all this war and pollution. We’ve come to warn you that you’re well on your way to screwing up this planet. We had the same problem at home, but we learned our lesson and we want to share our insight and technology with you. In return, our planet needs more TV shows, so can you send us American Idol and the complete Lost series?”
The above is more or less how it went in that excellent old 1951 movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. The aliens land. They fill in the blanks. They give concrete answers. But that’s only in the movies, I guess.
UFOs on video
In the meantime, while we wait for “Alien Day in the Park,” we’ll continue to see countless videos of UFOs, and we’ll learn of more alleged encounters and abductions.
Probably, the videos are the most exciting recent evidence, because there’s actually a moving pictuire of something. It may not be a very good picture; it may be a bird, a plane or Superman; but at least it’s there on the video.
In the past, all we got was a hazy photograph or a guy saying: “Yup, me and Clem were sittin’ on the dock and down come this silvery discy-thing and a funny little space-dude floated out and lifted Clem and me into that tin-can and then ...”
But now, we have video after video showing unsteady images of something darting back and forth in the sky, going in and out of focus. It reminds me of our old home movies with the Kodak Super 8.
People get excited about these videos. Yet, in almost all of them, there’s nothing conclusive.
Always missing is the video evidence that would convince even the most skeptical person that ET and his friends have arrived.
Often, the problem is:
• The video doesn’t really show anything specific.
• The UFO is too far away or out of focus.
• A spot of light — out of focus — can take on a different shape.
• The image is unsteady.
• There wasn’t enough light.
• The object on the tape isn’t visible long enough to be studied carefully.
• Light, shadows and reflections can create strange images on film or video tape.
• There’s always the nagging suspicion that the tape is a fake.
• An expert who examined the video couldn’t say one way or the other whether it was legitimate.
A UFO witness
Then, there’s often the problem of the witnesses themselves. Maybe they were drinking, maybe they made it all up or maybe they’re crazy.
If they say that they were just discussing this sighting with Elvis at the Burger King, then you’re probably entitled to be skeptical.
Where this “crazy” theory breaks down is in the case of a witness who can’t be easily discredited. Sometimes the witness is as “normal” as you and me. Well, as normal as you, anyway.
When a UFO sighting comes from — a reputable citizen, a policeman on duty, an air traffic controller, a military observer who knows about aircraft or a scientist trained to be precise and skeptical — then you start to wonder if perhaps there is something to these stories.
Where are these UFOs?
I’ve never seen a UFO. Have you? Sometimes, it seems like they turn up mostly in the southern U.S. Have you ever noticed how many sightings come from obscure places like Pascagoula, Mississippi or Sea Breeze, Florida? Why is that?
Do extraterrestrials like the warmth of the south better than the brisk and bracing chill of the north? Are some of the people down there more interested in tourism dollars for their “UFO hotspot” than they are in a legitimate sighting? Maybe those incidents are just part of the commercial/merchandising syndrome that we've seen with Nessie, Ogopogo and Bigfoot. Maybe it’s all bunk.
On the other hand ... If you’re interested in perhaps the best UFO story ever, peruse the many, many books about what appears to have been a UFO crash in New Mexico way back in 1947.
The story involves:
• The discovery of possible UFO debris at one location.
• The discovery, at another location, of what appeared to be a crashed UFO and five aliens, one of them alive!
This was followed by initial government acknowledgment of finding “flying saucer” debris, and then a massive cover-up of the incident which allegedly continues today.
What makes this incident so fascinating is the number of first-hand witnesses to these events. There is evidence that many people were threatened and/or sworn to secrecy by U.S. government officials. Only recently have these people revealed what they saw or know about what happened. So far, about 350 people have admitted knowledge of the events in Roswell over 50 years ago. Some of their information is second- or third-hand, but over 100 of the witnesses tell first-hand accounts.
Even those of us who are skeptical have to be intrigued by such a story and its implications.
Because of the extremely large number of witnesses, Roswell is probably the most credible UFO story to come along so far.
There are some other “believable” UFO incidents, one of which happened right here in Manitoba. The 1967 Steve Michalak-Falcon Lake sighting certainly qualifies as unexplained and, for the most part, remains a fascinating story that has never been fully explained. But, that’s a story for another time.