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Looking For a Link Between Sci-Fi UFOs and UFO Reports 202

Posted by timothy
from the it's-spooky-how-the-aliens-manipulate-hollywood dept.
NewsWatcher writes "The BBC has an interesting story about the link between sightings of UFOs and sci-fi films. From the article: 'Documents from the Ministry of Defence released by the National Archives show the department recorded 117 sightings in 1995 and 609 in 1996.' Those years correlate with the screening of the film Independence Day (1996) and when The X-Files was at the height of its popularity in the UK (1995). 'The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet,' said an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University."
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Looking For a Link Between Sci-Fi UFOs and UFO Reports

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:30PM (#29107123)

    Tell that to my ass.

  • i wonder ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:31PM (#29107139)
    ... if there is also a link then between Government Conspiracy Theories & shows like the x-files?
    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:41PM (#29107327) Homepage

      Why? You suspect a conspiracy that government pushes TV shows about conspiracy theories to cover up real conspiracies?

    • Yes, but the government has buried that research. I already have quite proof for that. You can read about that in my newsletter.

    • Re:i wonder ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by koolfy (1213316) <koolfy@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @01:14PM (#29107931) Homepage Journal
      If you look closely, you will learn that most of X-Files episodes are based on real cases and mysteries.
      While this includes people's imagination being debunked by FBI's investigation, it also includes references to "top secret" projects only known by early "conspiracy theorists" and some of them were sometimes revaled true a few years later.

      That's why it got that sucessful (besides the quality of the show itself) : it mixed mystic theories, unbelievable myth, and real theories about government and UFO's that were sometimes factual.

      I don't have much examples in mind right now, but I remember hearing much words like "aurora" "blackbird" or theories about UFO's when I was kid, and later, discover that those were based on real reports of people claiming to have experienced those things.
      • In the same way Hollywood movies are based on history? Like, take as an example "Shakespeare in love", based on the (possibly) real, historical playwright. Doesn't mean the movie had anything to do with historical reality.

        It's not because something is based on true events that it reflects those in any way that's historically accurate.

        Conspiracy theories are almost always lunatic inventions of people with little rational thinking ability. Also, reality is usually a lot more complex than the simplistic plots

        • by koolfy (1213316)
          I'm not saying that X-Files is to be trusted and accurate, it's not the purpose. :)

          "Trust no one" !
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >t also includes references to "top secret" projects only known by early "conspiracy theorists" and some of them were sometimes revaled true a few years later.

        How about a few dozen cites? I have a ton of proof the other way: conspiracy theories spouting bullshit.

        >like "aurora" "blackbird" or theories about UFO's when I was kid

        In other words one rumored experimental plane and another real one (SR77). I dont think anyone doubts the government has experimental aircraft. Everyone doubts that this involves

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lennier (44736)

        Yes, exactly. The X-Files was the first TV show I saw which 'got' the vibe of the conspiracy underground and managed to portray the strange mix of fact, conjecture, truth, outright lies, paranoia and contradiction which you get from doing serious study of the UFO phenomenon and related subjects. The show was at its best when it made no attempt to make anything make sense or add up and just generated a 'wtf' SF anthology feel. 'WHAT IF ALL the freaky things you've ever read in zines or on Usenet were, in fac

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      According to a show I saw on the History Channel, those were more than theories. Almost all UFO sightings are natural phenomena, and the rest, according to THC, were US government experimental aircraft. They had photos of flying saucers with USAF logos on them; they were allegedly the first attempts at stealth aircraft.

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      Well, there *is* a link between government conspiracy theories and X-Files *spin-off* shows. The pilot episode of Lone Gunman [youtube.com] featured in its plot hijacking of a plane that was flown remotely into World Trade Center Towers.

      Of course, this is a case where correlation is not causation. The pilot episode of Lone Gunman aired some 6 months before the 9/11 attacks! <weird X-file theme music />
  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yBLUEahoo.com minus berry> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:31PM (#29107141) Homepage Journal

    people see what they have been thinking about.

    For example: when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you see that same model car everywhere.

    Add to that peoples inability to think critically, and you get UFO's.

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:43PM (#29107367)

      My favorite is when the serious conspiracy theorists trot out the fact that the Air Force had an officer making reports about UFO sightings to the president. Of course, this was during a period when the United States was developing a variety of secret aircraft, so it stands to reason that the Air Force was keeping track of people who saw unidentified flying objects.

      • by Golddess (1361003)
        Exactly, people forget that UFO doesn't necessarily mean of alien origin, only that the Flying Object is as of yet Unidentified.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Also, the government was actually covertly trying to make people think they were space aliens. If you saw a top secret experimental aircraft, they'd rather you think it was Martians than realise it was a secret aircraft design.

        There was a real conspiracy; but the real conspiracy wasn't that they were covering up extraterrestrial visits. The real conspiracy was exactly the opposite.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        It always cracks me up that none of these conspiracy theorists, with all their reams of "secret information" never make the obvious connection that most of these sightings of strange aircraft at night were around secretive air force bases at the height of the Cold War. It takes a unique mindset to jump over the obvious conclusion of this evidence and to go right to "alien visitors from across interstellar space!" I guess it's cooler to think of "Men in Black" as aliens rather than boring old FBI and NSA age
        • by pjt33 (739471)

          It's clearly not really a unique mindset. Odd, certainly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cetialphav (246516)

          I think it is more than just the mindset. When I have seen these claims, the people are usually saying that the UFO did some odd aerobatic maneuver that is impossible for conventional aircraft. They really seem to believe this. To them, the only explanation is that the aircraft they see must not be man made.

          The true fallacy that they make is believing too much in their eyes. They are completely unqualified to determine whether the high performance, experimental aircraft(s) flying miles away is doing som

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheSoepkip (612477)

      I wonder how and if it relates to priming [wikipedia.org] ...

      Any psychologists around ?

    • So you're saying the aliens are only here to steal our cars?

    • It was in the sky and I couldn't tell what it was. Maybe it was a bird; but it was an object, I couldn't identify it, and it was flying.

      I don't think it was aliens, but you never know, it could have been a bird from Mexico or Canada. Or plane. Or...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I wholly agree but will look at that from another perspective. I was raised in Boston and moved to northern New Hampshire, I have never seen a moose or a deer in the wild. Being here for 17 years now I am able to pick them out in a wooded field driving down the road or highway at 65 mph just by a glance. Because I am used to seeing these things they are easier to spot. Being able to tell what type of creature is far ahead of me by how it is moving across the road. Take that into account with any media type
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Once again, there are remarkably few sightings of the Virgin Mary in areas with no Catholics.
  • A slip? (Score:4, Funny)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:31PM (#29107157)

    The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet,' said an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University.

    Which means that they are seeing something.

    UFOs have been observed since ancient times. The apostle John saw one. The Egyptians inscribed a UFO in their hieroglyphics. And the ancient Hebrews recorded the interactions of aliens and humans as the Nephilim.

    I think there's more than the authorities are willing to divulge. It's interesting to see leaks like the quote above confirm what some of us have believed for a long time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Beelzebud (1361137)
      The apostle John also talked to god. The Egyptians do NOT have a UFO in hieroglyphs, no matter what new age internet sites claim, and the Hebrews weren't talking about off-planet aliens when discussing the Nephilim, they're talking about children of fallen angels...

      If you honestly think there is a "leak" in that quote you mentioned, then WOW...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        the Hebrews weren't talking about off-planet aliens when discussing the Nephilim, they're talking about children of fallen angels...

        How, exactly, are angels, fallen or otherwise, not off planet aliens (aside from the belief that their off-planet origin is supernatural in nature rather than mundane, which, one would note, would apply equally to the ancient Hebrews conception of human origins.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          You can't conceive of "off-planet aliens" when you haven't yet conceived of *planets*.

          • You can't conceive of "off-planet aliens" when you haven't yet conceived of *planets*.

            The ancient Hebrews (and many other ancient people) had both a conception of the Earth as a distinct place within creation and a conception of beings which were not from that distinct place.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185)

          How, exactly, are angels, fallen or otherwise, not off planet aliens?

          Maybe we've been watching too much Stargate? Just saying... And one more question if I might:

          You're statement implies that there are 'on-planet aliens'. Just curious as to whom you're referring to.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            He's referring to ILLEGAL aliens!

          • You're statement implies that there are 'on-planet aliens'.

            1) "Your", not "you're";
            2) The phrase was used to reflect the post it was responding to;
            3) "aliens" has several senses, "off-planet aliens" distinguishes the intended sense from the more general sense of a foreigner.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            [Your] statement implies that there are 'on-planet aliens'. Just curious as to whom you're referring to

            Well, the ISS has offplanet aliens. Japanese, Russian... all sorts of aliens. My current girlfriend's ex husband is an alien [slashdot.org].

          • 'on-planet aliens'. Just curious as to whom you're referring to.

            Intraterrestrials (think morlocks, mole people, etc).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by scorp1us (235526)
        Lets think critically about this for a minute.
        You believe they spoke to a super natural being whose influence is not scientifically documented? Whose stongest interactions were taking place before digital recording and scientific reasoning?
        You believe in "angels" more than "life evolving on a[nother] planet"?

        WOW.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        As a nit pic, Angels would be aliens for all intents and purposes, as would God.

        I am an atheist, so don't construe this as defending someone imaginary man in the sky, or Santa Clause.

        • Re:A slip? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by catbertscousin (770186) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:13PM (#29108913)

          As a nit pic, Angels would be aliens for all intents and purposes, as would God.

          I am an atheist, so don't construe this as defending someone imaginary man in the sky, or Santa Clause.

          I dunno . . . I think it depends on your concept of the universe. I would think beings from another planet within the physical universe would be aliens, while beings from outside of (apart from, however you want to put it) the physical universe would be something else.

          • As a nit pic, Angels would be aliens for all intents and purposes, as would God.

            I am an atheist, so don't construe this as defending someone imaginary man in the sky, or Santa Clause.

            I dunno . . . I think it depends on your concept of the universe. I would think beings from another planet within the physical universe would be aliens, while beings from outside of (apart from, however you want to put it) the physical universe would be something else.

            Let me teach you about Islam [islamawareness.net]... The Jinn are beings created with free will, living on earth in a world parallel to mankind. The Arabic word Jinn is from the verb 'Janna' which means to hide or conceal.

        • by gad_zuki! (70830)

          >As a nit pic, Angels would be aliens for all intents and purposes, as would God.

          No because thats revisionist nonsense. Religious people from the past were just that: religious. They had visions, dreams, etc and no concept of life on other planets, flying machines, outer space, etc. Ufo believers think they can just pretend its the same thing, but its not, but this mentality shows you how much of ufology is really a religious belief in itself.

    • Re:A slip? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:49PM (#29107469) Journal

      The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet,' said an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University.

      Which means that they are seeing something.

      UFOs have been observed since ancient times. The apostle John saw one. The Egyptians inscribed a UFO in their hieroglyphics. And the ancient Hebrews recorded the interactions of aliens and humans as the Nephilim.

      I think there's more than the authorities are willing to divulge. It's interesting to see leaks like the quote above confirm what some of us have believed for a long time.

      [citations desperately needed]

      Ahhh, the human imagination and psyche. Full of so much wonderful things as the ability to conjure up grand imaginations and interactions ... as well as post a third hand account of several unrelated occurrences thousands of years ago in one paragraph.

      I wish the article had gone back further to War of the Worlds time or the old classic 50s black and white abduction movies. Note the first abduction didn't happen until [wikipedia.org] it had already been in pulps and film. And, from my own personal savior, Carl Sagan [wikipedia.org]:

      In The Demon-Haunted World astronomer Carl Sagan points out that the alien abduction experience is remarkably similar to tales of demon abduction common throughout history. "...most of the central elements of the alien abduction account are present, including sexually obsessive non-humans who live in the sky, walk through walls, communicate telepathically, and perform breeding experiments on the human species. Unless we believe that demons really exist, how can we understand so strange a belief system, embraced by the whole Western world (including those considered the wisest among us), reinforced by personal experience in every generation, and taught by Church and State? Is there any real alternative besides a shared delusion based on common brain wiring and chemistry?" (Sagan 1996 124)

      It's fun stuff to read about and write tall tales about ... and nothing more.

      • Note the first abduction didn't happen until [wikipedia.org] it had already been in pulps and film.

        The tales of alien abductions are eerily similar to the old tales of fairy abductions, with similar short humanoids with weird faces and pale skin.

        I once saw a documentary with some neurologist claiming that he could recreate that experience in people by causing a specific kind of neurological event, he said it was a kind of nigh terror, a vivid nightmare.

        Or maybe there is a centuries-old hidden culture of nefarious midgets who drug people and rape them. Hey, sometimes it rains fish, this is a weird world :

      • by lawpoop (604919)

        [citations desperately needed]

        Check out the Disclosure Project [google.com]. Their initial press conference had over two hours of pilots, Air Force personnel, and air traffic controllers talking about incidents of UFOs that were clearly not man-made ( size, speed, manueverability ), and either witnessed by multiple people, or both visually and on radar. No abductees or contactees or anything like that, just person after person saying "Pilots reported an object that we tracked on radar for 10 minutes, at which time it did an 90-degree turn sped away

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You mean peopel have seen things they can't explain! Stop the presses~

      Educated people make mistakes about Venus and the moon, what do you think about people before modern scientific training would think?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Yeah, but where's the bad analogy? ;)

      On topic, did you ever consider that if in fact there are aliens, that they're not space aliens but time aliens? Humans have only been on the planet for 100,00 years. What will humans look like a million years from now? I don't believe the UFOs are from space OR the future, but I doubt that they come from outer space more than I doubt they come from the future. Who knows what technology will come about in the next 100,000 years? Whay we have now would have been magic jus

      • Even if there were time aliens, they would also have to be space aliens, because our galaxy/solar system/planet are not static.

        I'll call em Space Time Aliens, or STAs for short.

  • by Cstryon (793006)

    Sounds to me like Independence Day got a lot of people thinking about aliens. So than, when they look at the sky, and see something they don't recognize, it must be an alien/ufo.

    I want to know why we always have crummy video of some ufo, when everyone has a camera on there cell phones, with fairly good resolution?

    • by AP31R0N (723649) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#29107881)

      If you see an OBJECT, that is FLYING, and you can't IDENTIFY it (making it UNIDENTIFIED)... it *is* a UFO (relative to me).

      That blurry, fast moving thing in the sky that i can't recognize is a UFO.

      UFO does not state or imply that the object is or might be alien... that's a leap people make on their own. If i say "i saw a UFO", i am NOT saying i saw something from outer space, just that it was in the air and i don't know what it was. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        For all practicality,. when someone says UFO, there talking about aliens.

        Yes, you are technically correct; which is the best kind of correct!

        Why would some call 911 to report a terrestrial airplane in the horizon they can't see ID Numbers on?

        • For all practicality,. when someone says UFO, there talking about aliens.

          Yes, you are technically correct; which is the best kind of correct!

          Why would some call 911 to report a terrestrial airplane in the horizon they can't see ID Numbers on?

          1- Equating UFO with Flying Saucer is common, but stupid, and not to be excused by it's vulgarity, especially in a haven of technically correct people such as slashdot.

          2- Unidentified object!!! If you identify it as an airplane, you don't need to have it's number, you know what kind of object it is.

          Stop enabling the dumbing down of society.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by 4D6963 (933028)
          And for all practicality, when someone says "there talking", they mean "they're talking".
        • by wowbagger (69688)

          "For all practicality,. when someone says UFO, there talking about aliens."

          There is a story about an Air Force officer, who is appointed to the position of Press Liaison (a position he most definitely does NOT want).

          So he goes up in a 2 seater fighter jet, with his usual WSO in the back seat. Presently, he says to his WSO "From here on out, I don't want you to say ANYTHING, except for the answers to my questions, which are to be yes, or no. Understood?"

          The bemused WSO agrees.

          The pilot then says "Do you see,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dbet (1607261)
        A very common way that people think is "if I can't prove it's something mundane, than the most fantastical explanation is probably right". It's simply more fun to live this way than to live in the real world. This not only explains religions but to some extent politics.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Have you ever taken a picture of something in the sky, even with a good camera? I have a digital camera with 5x zoom. When you look at the moon with your eyes, you can see a lot of detail. Now, during the last lunar eclipse, I tried to take some pictures of the moon. Even at 5x zoom, the moon was only a small percentage of the total image area. And even with a tripod, and the fact that the moon moves much slower than any flying saucer, I was unable to get a really clear picture of the moon. Basically,
      • The main problem I've noticed when photographing the moon with a point-and-shoot is that the moon is too bright. The auto exposure sets itself for the blackness of the sky. End result is that the moon, since it takes up very little of the actual picture, is completely overexposed.

    • This phenomenon is of course compounded by the fact that nobody ever looks at the sky anymore, so even things that *aren't* unusual get stuffed into 'UFO' if they happen to be seen. I mean, if you live in a city there's not really a *point*, it's just a big mostly black dome with the moon in it sometimes. I went on vacation recently and was stunned to realize that nobody in my entire family recognized the freaking milky way. Not one of them. I can only imagine what they would have thought if they'd seen an
  • I'm not sure why this hasn't been tagged correlationisnotcausation yet. But I'm pretty sure that the more tenuous a story's facts, the less people bother to read the article. And you know what that means?

    Well, nothing. But it deserves further investigation.

    • Re:missing tag... (Score:4, Informative)

      by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:47PM (#29107429) Homepage

      This is a case of "if you look hard enough, you will find". If they looked for evidence that reruns of 70's sitcoms were the cause of UFO sightings, they would have found evidence too.

      TFA mentions an average level when E.T. was released as contradictory (which was noted and, apparently, ignored) and TFS mentions an average level when X-Files was aired as evidence.

      • Correlation is not causation. The article presents no real evidence that UFO sightings are caused by Sci-Fi popularity. Until they do we must all continue to believe that the cause of UFO sightings is aliens.

  • Alien Web Profit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by emailandthings (844006) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:37PM (#29107271)

    1.- Create not so intelligent creatures

    2.- Have them go at it

    3.- Laugh at their culture, religion's belief, politics, and overall problems

    4.- Sell the broadcast to other aliens

    5.- Profit!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mwvdlee (775178)

      Alien life must be even more boring than earth life if THAT show were to make a profit. Highly unlikely.

    • I think I've read that book [amazon.com].
    • by blhack (921171) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @01:41PM (#29108359)

      Or much more likely:

      1: Find a planet full of potentially exploitable resources that can possibly support life
      2: Seed it with basic life
      3: Wait for the life to evolve
      4: Oh, yep, it can support life
      5: Move in
      6: Profit.

      One of the silliest things that humans seem to get stuck in their heads is that other creatures would have the same sort of life expectancy as we do. Animals on our own planet have drastically varying lifespans and we all evolved from the same goop.

      Start thinking about having a lifespan in the hundreds of millions of years (or no lifespan at all...something like...oh, I don't know, a machine/biological hyrbid intelligence) and suddenly those lightyears which seem SOOOOOOOO FAR are not so far any more.

      • by Gospodin (547743)

        The problem with the idea of creatures with lifespans millions of times longer than ours is that they wouldn't have had time to evolve. Or, if they had rapid reproductive cycles (human-scale) but very long lifespans, then (a) you have to wonder how that could have evolved and (b) how come they haven't overpopulated their planet yet? Might make for an interesting science-fiction novel background, but it's not very plausible.

        The cyborg idea is a better one. Although for really long life, I think you'd have to

    • That's exactly what happened to this guy [wikipedia.org].

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:37PM (#29107277)

    'The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet,' said an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University.

    I'll start to believe this might be credible when there is a proven, positive correlation between the prominence of UFOs in film and on TV and the incidence of trip-and-fall accidents.

  • This seems more like evidence of the powers of suggestion and priming. People who are thinking about aliens and such are more likely to see something and say "alien!" rather than "hmm, interesting cloud" or "Neat colored meteor" etc. I doubt this has much to do with where people are looking.
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @12:44PM (#29107373) Journal

    Pareidolia [wikipedia.org]

    • And your term for the day is. . ,

      argumentum ad ignorantiam [wikipedia.org].

      -FL

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      How that was modded up blows my mind. If anyone had, like I have, read the first sentence of the linked article, they'd know that pareidolia is about seeing patterns in random stuff. When you see a glowing cigar shaped object flying in the sky at impossible speeds with impossible accelerations, that's not like seeing a face in a cloud or in a toast.
      • Sorry, but when someone sees a blimp illuminated at night in the distance and thinks it's an alien spaceship, I think pareidolia is a pretty good word to use.

  • That is old news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius (535155) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @01:09PM (#29107819)
    If you look at UFO sighting report from the earliest to the latest you would remark that alien face evolved with time, and surprise surprise, cinematography. There is a web page somewhere which shows that somewhere , too bad I did not bookmark it. Same for alien "saucer" evolution by the way.
    • Re:That is old news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:37PM (#29109287) Homepage Journal

      If you look at UFO sighting report from the earliest to the latest you would remark that alien face evolved with time, and surprise surprise, cinematography. There is a web page somewhere which shows that somewhere , too bad I did not bookmark it. Same for alien "saucer" evolution by the way.

      I've looked into this some, and it's not so clear cut. The chicken and egg have fuzzy boarders. For example, (alleged) abduction experts point out that one generally does not recall the abductor's (alien's) face except under hypnosis, and until the Hill case, nobody was bothering to perform hypnosis for such purposes. Thus, there's very little pre-Hill material to compare (and some of it does match).

      As far as the "saucer" shape, there appeared to be an increase in saucer sightings even before the original "saucer" news article came off the press. A weatherman spotted about a dozen disks, for exammple, just before the paper. True, the rate jumped even further after the paper came out, but it's hard to tell whether people are simply looking and/or reporting harder, or whether they are imagining things they read about.

      I've read fairly extensively on the UFO phenom, and generally conclude it's premature to make any conclusions. If it's not a "space mystery", then it certainly is a psychological mystery. We'd have to toss out a lot of court cases and free a lot of "criminals" if eyewitness accounts from UFO-observing professionals such as airline pilots, emergency response, and cops is dismissed because of an alleged propensity to hallucinate based on media exposure.

      Something is really odd, either in the sky or in our heads. It's a fascinating topic regardless of the real answer.

         

  • Fools! Plot the sighting with aluminum foil sales!
  • religious movies and Christ-in-food sightings.

  • Could also be a result of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon - that is, the thing where after you learn a new word/name/fact, you suddenly start noticing it everywhere.

  • If you are interest or curious about flying saucers, of the form 'made on Earth', then this is an interesting documentary:

    http://www.factualtv.com/documentary/Real-Flying-Saucers [factualtv.com]

    it covers research done by Coander, the Germans and the Avrocar.

  • 600 UFO sitings is insignificant. That is such a ridiculously small percentage of the population of the U.K. that you can't use it for proving any correlation whatsoever. Just because it jumped in one year from insignificant/6 to insignificant doesn't mean a trend has been established. It's probably the same loon calling 3 time a night instead of once every 3 nights.
    Now show me 100,000 people calling in on one sighting, and I'll sit up and take notice.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:03PM (#29109675) Homepage

    Something like 0.2% of the US population claims to have been abducted by a UFO. This means about 16 flights per night for a medium-sized city. [jarmag.com] Do UFOs coordinate with air traffic control, or what?

    UFO 149A, you are cleared to descend to 6000, turn right heading 240, report when over LAX VOR.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Yeah, and what percentage of the population has certain types of mental disorders? That's something I really love about the anti-UFO arguments, people shooting down the whole thing just because 99% of reports are garbage.

  • Maybe the aliens time their visits to correlate with movies and whatever, just so that we'd think people just imagine things... ;)

  • FAQ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:22PM (#29114109)

    Q: With so many high-quality digital cameras out there in every cell phone, why do we only ever get crappy videos and fuzzy images of UFO's?
    A: Take your cell phone right now and photograph the nearest airplane in the sky. Then come back and ask that question.

    Q: Okay, but what about professional astronomers? Why don't they ever see UFO's?
    A: Who says they haven't?

    Q: If alien life is out there, why don't they just talk to us?
    A: Go to your local factory farm and try opening lines of communication with the livestock. Then come back and ask that question.

    Q: Why would the government want to keep alien life a secret from us?
    A: Go tell your bank manager during your next loan application that you are under the complete domination of a freaky bully who does with you and your family whatever it pleases and that you are utterly powerless to stop it, and that it insists you orchestrate the mass-murder of everybody in the bank and that you fully intend to go along with this plan. Then come back and ask that question.

    Q: But Occam's Razor says that the simplest solution is usually the right one.
    A: Occam didn't take into account that people are conceited to the point where they believe that any idea which hasn't yet occurred to them is less likely to hold validity than those ideas which they have thought of. Example: When Alexander Graham Bell first announced to the world the existence of the Telephone, very smart critics refused to believe it, even going so far as to publish treatises and diagrams in the leading journals of the day, declaring that the physics of sound simply made it impossible that voice could travel any distance through metal tubes (wires) of the diameter described in Bell's experiment; Was it more likely, they asked, that Bell had discovered some New Magical Force or that he was simply lying? --If we only believe in things we already know and understand, then we would never learn anything new.

    Q: Okay, but people are very good at seeing patterns where none exist. People have been fooled before!
    A: Right, and by the same logic, since, "All cows are Animals, all Animals must therefore be Cows."

    Q: Show me proof! All you are doing is offering non-falsifiable arguments! Proof, damn it!
    A: There's tons of it out there. You're simply refusing to look at it. Crop circles are a great place to start because they don't fly away; watch the film, "Crop Circles, Quest for Truth". Also, read Richard Dolan's, "UFO's and the National Security State." After you do some basic research, you won't feel compelled to wave that question around.

    This concludes the FAQ.

    -FL

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