ET phony…or phone home?

Do+aliens+not+believe+in+humans%3F+Its+hard+to+know+what+is+out+there+without+proof.+

Clarence Cooper

Do aliens not believe in humans? It’s hard to know what is out there without proof.

Erica Garbutt , Features Editor

This is the stuff of loonies: UFOs, alien abductions, first contact with another sentient civilization…it only happens in the movies. Scientists haven’t found any signs of extraterrestrial life yet, although they are diligently searching for it. So why do people claim to have communicated with aliens or even encountered them firsthand? Do UFOs actually exist? Is there really a government cover-up hiding the truth about creatures from other planets?

As stated previously, scientists are still looking for any potential signs of intelligent life in the universe. (Because, obviously, there’s no intelligent life to be found on Earth. Har har har.) This is an undisputed fact. So, let’s figure out what those supposed whackos who speak with aliens are talking about, shall we?

First of all, UFOs are not exactly a recent phenomenon. UFOs have been reported since the 1600s (“America’s First UFO Sighting”, History.com). The first modern UFO sighting occurred in 1947, when Kenneth Arnold saw crescent-shaped objects that moved like “saucers skipping on water” while flying his plane; a newspaper misquoted Arnold as saying the objects looked like saucers, which led to the now-familiar term “flying saucers” (“History of UFOs”, History.com). Sure, some UFO reports are hard to believe, and there is a range of plausible explanations for these strange sightings, from possible military aircraft to natural phenomena. But, as we all know, not everything in life can be explained, and there are UFO reports that are shockingly well-documented. In one instance, an Air Force pilot tracked a UFO through the air and flew within 1,000 feet of it before it flew off (“Five Good Reasons to Believe in UFOs”, channel.nationalgeographic.com). Another credible UFO sighting occurred in 1952, when British fighter pilot Roland Hughes sighted a flying saucer beside his plane while on a training flight in Germany; the presence of the UFO was also backed by its appearance on Royal Air Force radar (“The UFO sighting that convinced a Government minister”, telegraph.co.uk).

Okay, so maybe we can believe that there are a few shiny metal things flying around in the sky that can’t always be accounted for. But what about actual aliens themselves? Are there real-life ETs, or are those just made up by people who refuse to believe that they imagined something weird? Well, the truth is that alien encounters are more of a psychological phenomenon than a physical one. One explanation is that people who report alien abductions are more prone to vivid fantasies than average human beings (“Alien Abductions: The Real Deal?”, Psychology Today). Other explanations for alien abductions include sleep paralysis or hallucinations. Is it really possible that we’re alone in this galaxy? There is a theory known as the Rare Earth Theory that suggests that the conditions for life are so rare that the Earth may indeed be the only planet with living organisms. That’s a bit of a depressing thought. But there are a couple of believable pieces of alien evidence, including the discovery of long alien-like skulls dating back to 300 B.C in Peru and a mathematical equation by astronomer Frank Drake that calculates that there is a great probability of the existence of life on other planets (“Do aliens exist? Most compelling evidence of alien existence”, history.co.uk).

As for government a cover-up? That’s not as likely as some conspiracy theorists would have you believe. In fact, the government is actually compelled to disclose any information on extraterrestrials should they arrive on Earth. The government has even undertaken special investigations, like Project Blue Book, to look into UFO cases. In many cases, the government doesn’t seem to take an interest in UFOs, and in Colonel John B. Alexander’s book, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities, he debunks claims that aliens or a crashed UFO was involved in the infamous Roswell incident. It’s clear that the government is not the shady cover-up agency that many believers would like to think it is.

There is compelling evidence for both sides of the alien case. Both skeptics and believers have valid claims for their sides. Much of the stranger alien phenomena, such as abductions, have sensible, earthbound explanations. But life cannot be shoved into an easily definable box that fits only rational, scientific theories. There are numerous unexplainable things in this world, and UFOs and aliens are just some of the things that might seem too hard to believeeven when there is solid evidence for their existence. Keep your eyes on the skiesyou never know if that weird shiny thing is more than just a helicopter passing by.