Ufos: Fact Or Fiction? Essay, Research Paper
Unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, are one of the most controversial mysteries known to mankind. From ancient to present times, unidentified objects have been seen in the sky by millions of people. The question is, of course, what is it that we are seeing in our skies? Are they foreign spacecrafts from distant planets, merely Air Force experiments, or only our imagination? Many people believe that extraterrestrial life is existent and far more advanced then us. Conversely, many believe that aliens are just figments of our optimistic imaginations.
What about our governments? Are they hiding vital information from us, the citizens of the world, in belief that we are better off not knowing the truth? Countless government employees have continually denied allegations of UFOs being in contact with our planet. Then again, many of these officials have also allegedly taken part in UFO cover-ups and seen >flying saucers= for themselves. Is there some huge conspiracy, or are there only attention-hungry people who wish to be in the spotlight? Arguments are incredibly strong for both sides. There is an excessive amount of information which could lead one to assume that UFOs are fiction, yet there is also an abundant amount of evidence which suggests that UFOs are in fact out there. What, and who, are we to believe?
On September 1, 1859, Richard Carrington, a renowned astronomer of his time, Asaw two luminous bodies that he said were not meteors flying through the air@ (Lore 53). Nine years later at Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford, many astronomers witnessed a Aluminous object that moved quickly across the sky, stopped, changed course to the west, then to the south, where it hovered for four minutes. Then it headed toward the north.@ (Lore 53) UFOs. What are they, and where do they come from?
Unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, are one of the world=s oldest and most intriguing mysteries. >UFOs= are commonly called >flying saucers=, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as Aany of various unidentified flying objects typically reported and described as luminous discs@ (272). Esteemed Idaho businessman Kenneth Arnold coined the phrase >flying saucer= when in June of 1947 he saw saucer-shaped discs flying over the Cascade Mountains. It was in this year that these unidentified flying object sightings began to escalate.
About one month after Arnold saw these objects in the sky the incident at Roswell occurred. July of 1947, Roswell, New Mexico. The spaceships of extraterrestrials flew over the site of a 1945 atomic bomb test site. During flight, one of these spacecrafts malfunctioned and crashed to the earth. Its entire crew was killed. As Charles Moore stated:
various portions of this sequence of events were observed on Army Air Force radars and by eyewitnesses. Thus, alerted, the military acted swiftly; a cordon of troops was placed around the impact site; the wreckage and the small, humaniod alien bodies were removed; and all traces of the crash were expunged. (3)
On the 8th of July, the public relations officer at Roswell Army Air Force issued a press release which stated that they had Arecovered a flying disk that had been sent on to higher headquarters for examination@ (Moore 3). Within hours though, this announcement was repudiated. The general in command of the regional Army Air Force declared that the wreckage was merely the remains of a weather balloon. This latter story was obviously invented to conceal the recovery of an alien spacecraft. Government officials continued this cover-up by threatening eyewitnesses and local reporters with Asevere reprisals if they continued to reveal information about the flying disk@ (Moore 3). This was just the beginning of a massive cover-up, which attempts to keep the world=s citizens in the dark.
It wasn=t until 1979 when a former military intelligence officer from the Roswell Army Air Force defied the security regulations and spoke out. He told reporters and UFO investigators that the wreckage collected near Roswell in 1947 Awas not that of a weather balloon and that the fragments he had seen and handled exhibited unusual properties, in terms of hardness and strength, that were not possessed by terrestrial materials@ (Moore 4). In following years researchers interviewed many people who had firsthand or secondhand knowledge about the Roswell incident. Their testimonies confirmed the crash of an alien spaceship and the recovery of many alien bodies.
Three years after the infamous Roswell incident, a Mrs. Trent was in her backyard in Oregon when she saw a huge metallic disk. She was able to snap two pictures of this alien craft, which silently hovered in the air. The U.S. Air Force and many independent investigators scrutinized these photos. In the 1969 government-run Condon Report (a skeptical view of UFO existence), it is stated that Athe simplest, most direct interpretation of the photos confirms precisely what the witness said she saw.@ Years afterward, William Spaulding used Asuper intense high-tech computer photograph analyzers@ to study the same two >Trent= photos. (Life 138) Spaulding also concluded that the pictures depicted a legitimate flying saucer, and that it was not a hoax.
Recently, in October of 1997, a giant explosion created a flash which was seen over El Paso Texas. The shock-wave from this explosion was felt all the way to Las Cruces, New Mexico. One scientist gave the explanation that a meteor had exploded several miles up, but the local sheriff vehemently disagreed. The sheriff stated that Athey can say what they want, but it is like I am standing here in a snowstorm.@ He went on to describe the debris as being Alightweight and metallic, >like sequins or the metal flake makeup that ladies sometime wear.=@ (DeBow 9) Many eyewitnesses said that they saw a flash in the sky, which was followed by smoke. Ex-military personnel said that Athe event looked like something had been shot down by some kind of missile@ (DeBow 9). Suspicions began when military and scientific search parties refused to allow anybody to look around. Then, Aa major Army helicopter strike equipped with infrared sensors was employed@ (DeBow 10). To most people, these actions seem to be very extreme for investigating a meteorite.
Some debris from a 1990 UFO crash was recovered and sent to the Space Research Institute in Brussels. The Space Research Institute Areplied that the item definitely came from space@ (DeBow 8). It is rumored that there is a highly secretive and specialized military team Athat recovers crashed discs. This team is very similar to the Navy Seals or Green Berets….this unit is known as the Blue Berets.@ (DeBow 11) Many former military personnel have also claimed that UFOs have repeatedly crashed on our soil. A former CIA agent, Derrel Sims, has shown
x-ray photographs of suspected implants in human legs, arms and feet…he also has shown some objects that were removed during recent surgeries. Some looked like small pebbles, another looked like tiny metal sticks, while another was flesh colored and hollow.
Unfortunately, the hundreds of UFO hoaxes and government denials have created UFO skepticism. Sure it is easy to laugh at the thought of Martians and flying saucers visiting our planet, but there is too much evidence out there for us to ignore. There have been, and will continue to be, a good share of hoaxes. However, there are also many cases that cannot be dismissed as so. For instance, most of these Acrafts maneuver in such humanly impossible speeds and in gravity defying manners. One moment the UFO is spotted hovering over a house and one second later it can be seen over 25 miles away.@ (UFOs? 8-9) In addition, it has been proven that these metallic saucers can cause interference with television signals and even shut off car ignitions.
Governments tell us that there is no intelligent life besides that on Earth. Than why do they continually investigate crash sites and blockade the public from viewing them? If the government knows that there are no extraterrestrial beings out there, why did the Army Air Forces begin an official investigatory program entitled Project Saucer two months after Arnold=s sighting over the Cascade Mountains in 1947. Furthermore, Athe Fire Fighter=s handbook has 14 pages dedicated to how to control a disaster when a flying saucer crashes. Chapter 13 is entitled >Enemy Attack and UFO Potential.=@ (DeBow 1) To posses the knowledge of how to >control a disaster when a flying saucer crashes= somebody must have had some experience on the matter. How else could such information be printed on how to extinguish a burning flying saucer? Our governments will try as hard as they possibly can, but they can not keep UFOs a secret for ever.
Unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, are one of the world=s oldest and most intriguing mysteries. These >UFO= sightings, if not hoaxes, can usually be explained by astronomical and meteorological occurrences. >UFOs= are commonly called >flying saucers=, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as Aany of various unidentified flying objects typically reported and described as luminous discs@ (272). Idaho resident Kenneth Arnold coined the phrase >flying saucer= when in June of 1947 he supposedly saw >saucer-shaped discs= flying over the Cascade Mountains. It was in this year that these erratic unidentified flying object sightings began to escalate.
Kenneth Arnold saw these >UFOs= as his private jet was taking off from an airport. He stated: Athe aircrafts were approximately twenty or twenty-five miles away, and I couldn=t see a tail on them. I watched for about three minutes…They were flat like a pie pan.@ Arnold, being an experienced pilot, clocked the speed of these flying objects at about 1200 miles per hour. (Menzel 4) First of all, if these >flying saucers= were moving at a speed of 1200 miles per hour, they would have traveled out of his sight in well less than three minutes (in the three minutes that Arnold observed them they would have traveled at least 60 miles away). From his original statement though, they could barely have traveled more than twenty-five miles during that three minutes. Secondly, Arnold also changed his original description of these >UFOs= from being Aflat like a pie pan@ to Acrescent-shaped, with swept-back wings@ (Menzel 5). Such discrepancies in Arnold=s so-called >UFO encounter= greatly lowers his credibility and the likelihood that he actually did observe >UFOs= from his plane that day.
About one month after Arnold saw these >objects= in the sky the incident at Roswell, New Mexico occurred. One day in July of 1947, New York University weather balloons flew overhead. During flight some of these balloons burst, due to their constant exposure to sunlight, and crashed to the earth. The public relations officer at Roswell Army Air Force issued a press release which stated that the wreckage was merely the remains of a weather balloon. Debris from this crash site included dark grey rubber, tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks. The NYU weather balloons were made of a thick dark rubber, and the radar targets used Awere constructed using a considerable amount of tape to attach the radar-reflective panels to the balsa-wood structural members (sticks)@ (Moore 112). The analysis of the recovered debris is consistent with what would have been recovered if the debris found was from a balloon flight which carried radar targets. This explanation is factual based, and certainly out-weighs the opposition, that a >UFO= crashed.
>UFO= sightings are known to be caused by many different phenomena, and astronomical objects. One of the most admissible and respected examples of these phenomena are mirages. Mirages are not illusions. They are real objects seen because of abnormal reflection. Mirages are usually seen on hot flat surfaces such as deserts or roadways. Mirages occur when Alight is reflected from a caustic (discontinuity) which forms between the normal air and the superheated air near the surface@ (Amateur Science 1). Mountains, planets/stars, and cars are often reflected, and seen inverted in the sky. Many researchers and investigators insist that Kenneth Arnold=s sighting was actually a mirage of the mountain tops, not some >flying crafts=. Researchers believe that many people who report seeing >UFOs= are actually not lying, but that it is merely a mistake in identity. Mirages can explain so many >UFO= reports that many claim the >UFO= mystery to be solved.
The mirage theory has helped conclude to a scientific hypothesis which explains >UFO= reports. This hypothesis declares that Athere is no need to consider pseudoscientific or more exotic hypotheses; there is certainly no justification for the idea that >UFO= reports represent evidence for the activity of aliens or paranormal influences@ (Amateur 15). The similar appearances of >UFOs= are easily explained using the mirage theory. Stars and planets can be seen from anywhere on Earth. Our atmosphere is as likely to produce an inverted reflection (mirage) in one place as another. Moreover,
the few basic shapes reported are consistent with the protean forms seen in mirages, especially the double >saucer= shape. The >saucer= disc is not an imagined shape for alien space craft (after all, our spacecrafts are a completely different shape). It is a real shape seen in the sky. (Amateur Science 15)
This real shape is that of different planets and stars. Through reflection though, they appear to be flying objects in our skies. This also explains why >UFOs= move through the sky at great speeds and perform impossible maneuvers, while making no sound. There are no limitations on the speed or maneuvers of an image, and images do not make any noise.
Most >UFOs= are eventually identified as hoaxes or astronomical events, aircrafts, satellites, weather balloons, or other natural phenomena. According to studies performed by the U.S. Air Force Aless than 2% of UFO sightings remain unidentifiable… It is probable that with more information those 2% would be identified as something other than alien spacecraft@ (UFOs and Ets 9). Maybe the reason that no logical explanation is credible to >UFO= believers is because they do not want to hear a logical explanation, or they make little or no effort to find one. >UFO= existence is not proved just because a logical explanation can not be found.
Furthermore, >UFO= existence is not proved just because it can not be disproved. The fact that some genius cannot come up with an explanation for something does not mean that the contrary is true; a claim does not become true or reasonable if the contrary cannot be proved to be true. Attacking arguments or motives instead of presenting positive evidence is another common tactic of >UFO= believers. Contradiction is not a substitute for support/proof. It is illogical to assume that because one=s reasons are flawed, that your own are not. In addition, why is it that >UFOs= are
usually observed by untrained skywatchers and almost never by professional or amateur astronomers, people who spend inordinate amounts of time observing the heavens above. One would think that astronomers would have spotted some of these alien crafts. Perhaps the
crafty aliens know that good scientists are skeptical and inquisitive. Such beings might pose a threat to the security of a story well-told. (UFOs and Ets 9)
An article entitled AUFOs and Ets@ defines Aa UFO as an unidentified flying object which has been identified as a possible or actual alien spacecraft@ (2). These objects include meteors, satellites, birds, airplanes, lights, weather balloons, and mirages/reflections. Many photographs of these objects have been taken, but most are blurry and forgeries. As for alleged debris from crashes, landings, and implants, most Ahas turned out to be quite terrestrial, including hoaxes@ (UFOs and Ets 2). One main reason for believing in >UFOs= is because of the testimony of many different people. We trust incompetent people that tell us fantastic stories, and distrust all contrary scientific sources. The believers insist that there is a massive conspiracy to withhold the truth, and they aspire for contact with the unknown world above. So far, nothing has ever been positively identified as an >alien spacecraft=. There is also no physical evidence which undoubtedly supports a >UFO= landing, and no conclusive justification of >UFOs= ever entering our skies.
Are alien spacecrafts out there somewhere, or are we misidentifying these objects in the sky? The question still remains: What is it that we are seeing in our skies? In the pages preceding, Chapter I (only touching the surface of the subject) proved convincingly that UFOs are indeed visiting our planet while Chapter II (again only touching the surface of the subject) proved convincingly that UFOs are indeed a case of falsified information and misidentified objects. Both sides of the UFO debate have proven to be extremely convincing. This is why UFOs are, and will continue to be, one of the most controversial mysteries known to mankind; a mystery which may never be solved.
Did an alien spaceship crash land into the desert in Roswell, New Mexico? Or did a couple of weather balloons burst and fall to the ground? Many eyewitnesses and military personnel have spoken out and claimed that the wreckage was not terrestrial. On the other hand, others who saw the recovered debris have insisted that it was that of a weather balloon. To add to this uncertainty, the original press release issued by the U.S. Air Force stated that the Air Force had Arecovered a flying disk@ (Moore 3). Hours later though, this statement was discarded, and the general in command claimed that the wreckage was that of a NYU weather balloon. Recently, the American Computer Company Ahas made claims that the Roswell crash wreckage led Bell scientists to discover the transistor, laser and integrated circuits@ (DeBow 2-3). Are such claims bogus? Roswell is a great example of plausible, yet contradicting, evidence. The military may know the answers to all our questions about the Roswell incident, but it appears that we may never get a straight-forward and honest answer from them.
Another UFO sighting with two very valid arguments is the Kenneth Arnold sighting of 1947. Kenneth Arnold was
a normal businessman in Idaho. As an upstanding and reputable citizen and an expert on flying, Arnold was believed when he said that he witnessed a ship zoom back and forth at approximately 1,200 miles per hour. (UFOs? 8)
His story did have discrepancies though. For instance, the description he gave of the flying objects changed from them being Aflat like a pie pan@ to Acrescent-shaped, with swept-back wings@ (Menzel 5). Some researchers do believe that Arnold was not lying. These researchers claim that the flying crafts he witnessed were merely mirages of the nearby Cascade Mountains, and that the sighting was just a case of mistaken identity.
This >mirage theory= has become more accepted in recent years. Mirages are caused by abnormal reflections which makes real objects appear to be floating in the sky. The similarities in UFO reports can be explained with this concept of mirages. For the most part, mountain ranges are of a consistent shape, stars/planets are of a consistent shape,…, etc. When these objects of alike shapes are reflected into the sky, they will yield sightings which describe >flying crafts= of a couple similar shapes. This constant pattern of sizes and shapes fuels a UFO advocate=s argument. These believers claim that the consistency in UFO reports proves that alien crafts do exist, but many scientists and researchers are now identifying many of these sightings as mistaken identity due to mirages. Also, this well-known configuration of UFOs results in thousands of hoaxes which are made to mimic the authentic appearance of an alien spacecraft.
During the middle of the twentieth century UFO sightings greatly increased. Most sightings were evaluated by both UFO advocates and UFO skeptics. The skeptics have attempted to discredit all of the alleged sightings. One which they could not invalidate was the Trent Photos from 1950. To this day they remain officially unexplained, or in laymen terms, authentic photographs of a UFO. The photos were analyzed by a government-run research program entitled The Condon Report. Their conclusion was that Athe simplest, most direct interpretation of the photographs confirms precisely what the witness said she saw,@ a UFO (Life 138). The Trent Photos were also proved authentic with very high-tech photo analyzers by William Spaulding, an independent researcher. This single case greatly damages the skeptics= argument, but still fails to prove without a doubt that UFOs do indeed exist.
Many people believe that UFO existence has already been proven. These UFO supporters argue that the Trent Photos are just additional evidence to be piled onto the high stack of government documents which confirm that alien spacecrafts have indeed entered our air space. For the UFO advocates in our world, words like conspiracy and cover-up are well-known. Almost all believers claim that governments are hiding information from us. Is this constant denial of UFO existence because our government wants to ensure national safety and prevent potential mass hysteria, or is it because they have genuinely surmised that aliens do not exist? Many ex-military and CIA personnel claim to have seen alien crafts, alien implants and alien beings. Are their claims sincere, or merely a hoax.
What about the Fireman=s handbook, and visual/radar affirmation of UFOs by the military? In the Fireman=s handbook there are A14 pages dedicated to how to control a disaster when a flying saucer crashes, and Chapter 13 is entitled >Enemy Attack and UFO Potential=@ (DeBow 1). Why would a fireman undergo training for a >crash= or >attack= of something that does not exist? Also, in July of 1952,
a formation of seven >blips= entered the restricted airspace over the White House. One week later the >blips= again appeared, prompting the Air Force to vector two F-94s toward the objects. In a CIA memo dated July 28, 1952, to the Deputy Director/ Intelligence from the Acting Assistant Director of Scientific Intelligence stated: >In the past several weeks numerous UFOs have been sighted visually and on Radar.= (Investigate 1)
The government ended their investigation of these sightings after Ataking the position that they were nothing more than radar mirages caused by temperature inversions@ (Investigate 2). The government, even after indisputable visual confirmation, stated that there were no objects in the sky, but that they were only mirages on a radar. Is this a case of mistaken identity, or is it another footprint in the government=s massive cover-up?
Skeptics denounce this cover-up theory. Numerous skeptics believe that people who report UFOs are either fantasy prone, psychopathological, hypnotizable or less intelligent than normal and should not be taken seriously. Studies have shown that this viewpoint is not accurate. It is true that Astories are sometimes generated by uneducated people, but >uneducated= doesn=t imply >unintelligent=@ (Hynek 9). Reports from police officers, military personnel, pilots,…, etc are no more reliable than those from anyone else. Furthermore, most people who report UFOs have no interest in the subject and are not professional observers. A claim as incredible as seeing a UFO requires more than eyewitnesses to be believed. There needs to be hard evidence which declares, without a doubt, that what was seen was indeed a UFO.
In order to understand the present and Ato predict the future, we must understand the past. The study of the history of Ufology (the study of UFOs) is as important as the history of any other subject if one is to grasp it.@ (Bray 37) There are many people that believe UFOs exist, but there are just as many people that dispute the existence of alien beings. Skeptics argue that there is no material evidence of UFOs and aliens. Adversely, UFO advocates argue that no logical explanation has ever been found for many alleged sightings. Unfortunately for these UFO buffs, UFO existence is not proved just because a logical explanation cannot be attained. Likewise though, their existence cannot be disproved just because it can not be proved. A claim does not become authoritative only because the contrary cannot be confirmed. This paper examines just a few of the grounds on which both sides argue. The question is, which side is right? Both points of view have valid claims, yet both are convincingly persuasive. If only >we the people= could trust our governments= stand on the issue. After all, if UFOs do not exist, why all the secrecy? Again we ask ourselves, what and who, are we to believe?
AAmateur Science Solves the UFO Mystery@. 18 pages. Online. Internet. April 4, 1998.
Boyer, Mark, and Kaethe Ellis. The American Heritage Dictionary. New York: Dell Publishing, 1983.
Bray, Arthur. The UFO Connection. Ottawa, Ontario: Jupiter Publishing, 1979.
DeBow, Mathew. A(Article Title Unknown)@. UFO Chronicles. 13 pages. Online. Internet. April 1, 1998.