Are extraterrestrials visiting earth?

20 Dec

This post is the third in a series about space travel and life in the universe. In the first post I discussed the likelihood that humanity is doomed to die on earth (Paul’s Moments: We’re all going to die here!) and in the second I have a look at what extraterrestrial life might look like and what it’s motives towards humanity may be (Paul’s Moments: Extraterrestrial Life – Chicken or Pork). This post will look at the field of ufology (I stop short of referring to it as science) and whether it’s possible that Aliens are visiting Earth today.

UFOs were one of the first things I remember seriously researching, I’d have been about twelve I think and inspired by an article in The Fortean Times, a magazine I’ve read avidly every month since. I remember being sat in our local village library surrounded by every book I could find on the subject, my timing was good as the early 90’s saw a huge surge in UFO interest and a lot of books were released on the subject. I remember how excited I felt that day and that’s the moment my interest started and it has been an interest that has endured ever since.

Back then, and for quite some time after, I subscribed to the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ hypothesis of ufology (sometimes referred to as the Extraterrestrial hypothesis), which states that UFO represent forays by extraterrestrial craft into Earth airspace. It’s by far the most popular theory of ufology in terms of general sentiment, but it’s the most problematic in terms of science. I’m not going to re-tread old ground in explaining why the possibility of ET paying Earth a visit is statistically unlikely; I thought instead I’d look at the other theories that might be a better fit.

What this post is not claiming, and this is something I’d never claim, is that everyone who sees a UFO is either a liar or insane. I personally have seen lights in the sky that I would find difficult to explain and far more credible observers than me have seen the same or similar, but that does not make them extraterrestrial crafts, it makes them…erm…Unidentified Flying Objects.

Black Projects

One of the theories that can possibly explain a lot of sightings (including one of my own at RAF St Mawgan just outside Newquay, Cornwall) is the black project explanation. Black Projects are top-secret government-funded military projects to develop new aircraft. The US alone spends billions of dollars a year on the research and development of such craft. Many of these craft you will never hear about, many won’t progress beyond a concept on paper, but some do go on to become the mainstream, such as the F-117 Nighthawk and eventually, I presumes, The US Airforce’s worst kept secret: The Aurora.

If you’re wondering why this black funding of military technology goes on, well it’s very simple, tension between nations, even allies, never goes away and no poker player ever reveals their cards mid-game.

Some of the black budget craft rumoured to be in existance (by nature there is little official documentation) utilise advanced and exotic forms of propulsion and shielding technology which could account for some of the capabilities observed in UFO sightings…at this point I’ll point out that all technology used in Black Projects would not be able to contravene the standard model of physics. Previous studies of the UFO phenomena have noticed a high volume in the vacinity of military bases and installations, which the nuts-and-bolters point to as evidence ET is checking out our military capabilities, but isn’t the Black Project explanation more satisfying in accounting for this?

So, if Black Project aircraft can account for some UFO sightings, what about the rest?

Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena

The Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena theory explains the rest as either little-known, or totally unknown, forms of atmospheric effect. One such phenomena that we are aware of is ball lightning , rare balls of crackling electricity that have been observed to move as if under intelligent control before exploding, leaving behind only the strong odour of Sulphur.

Some researchers have spotted links between fault lines and/or coal seams and UFO sightings, suggesting there may be a link between plate techtonics and unexplained aerial phenomena. In my native South Yorkshire, rich in coal, there is an oral tradition of strange lights in the sky near coal seams.

There is a trend of time-slips, so-called loss of the observers ability to remember periods of time, associated with UFO sightings. UFO researcher Jenny Randles argues, in her book Time Storms, that this loss of time could be associated with some unexplained phenomena not associated with UFOs or Extraterrestrials. Randles suggests some naturally occurring form of temporal distortion. So far, there is no science that can explain this and only a handful of scientists who would entertain the notion, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or so the saying goes.

The problem of UFO sightings

People have been reporting UFOs since the late 30s (much earlier if you’re a fan of some more recent interpretations from researchers) so why are we not closer to a satisfactory explanation for them? There seem to be a number of reasons:

  • Sightings are mostly made by lone observers and therefore unsupported by corroborative witnesses;
  • There is little or no physical evidence following a sighting for science to test;
  • All serious governmental and scientific studies have not been able to turn up anything that could be termed evidence;
  • Only a small percentage of sightings are made by subjects with credibility in the successful  identifying aerial objects;
  • Ufology is plagued by a ‘loony-fringe’ (Yes Nick Pope that’s you!) who inadvertently remove all credability from the subject making it unfortunately likely that serious researchers will give it a wide-berth for fear they get tarred with the same brush; and
  • If it’s not the ‘loony fringe’ removing credibility, it’s the hoaxers and attention-seekers muddying the water with their deceptions.

Despite these very real problems, I remain convinced, as the 12 year old me was, that the study of UFOs is a valid area of research. I don’t pretend to have answers, but I do feel that something interesting is happening here.

Further Reading: Theories

I’ve presented my two favourite theories, but I’m just scratching the surface, there are plenty of others to pick from, from the sublime to the rediculous. Here’s a round-up provided by the Fortean Times: An A – Z of UFO Theories and Wiki has this on UFO Hypotheses

I leave you with this video:

What do you think dear reader?

Coming soon: my thoughts on alien abduction phenomena.

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