UFOs - Truth or Myth?

UFO is short for Unidentified Flying Objects, as most people who are into science fiction already know. UFO sightings have frequently occurred throughout history; for example, the army of Alexander the Great saw two silver shields in the sky 329 B.C. – a phenomenon that hardly can be explained by secret military planes. In fact, if you consider the hundreds of thousands reports of UFO sightings and consider that approximately 10-20% of all reports can not be explained by the scientists, you have to wonder: Are we alone, after all?

The history of UFO is, as mentioned above, not a modern phenomenon. UFO reports have repeatedly occurred during the centuries. However, the term “UFO” and “Flying Saucer” was not coined until after the World War II. In 1947, an American businessman named Kenneth Arnold saw nine brilliantly shining objects from his private plane, which later on was described as “flying saucers” or “flying disks” by the media. The term “UFO” was invented by Edward Ruppelt, who was the first director of Project Blue Book; the official Air Force UFO investigations project during 1952-1970. Ruppelt realized that the term “flying saucer” needed to become broader, and therefore invented the term “UFO”, which include all non-identified flying objects.

UFOs can be classified into several subcategories using the Hynek system: a) Nocturnal Lights, which is anomalous lights seen in the night sky; b) Daylight Discs, which is daylight sightings of anomalous objects in the sky and c) Radar/Visual cases, which is objects seen both visual in the sky as well as on radar. There is also a classification system that include Close Encounter subcategories, where CE1 is classified as sightings of flying objects, CE2 is classified by sightings and physical evidence, such as electromagnetic interference, and CE3 where “occupants or entities” can be seen (this has inspired the movie title “Close encounter of the third kind” by Steven Spielberg).

There are several explanation theories concerning UFOs. Of all UFO sightings, 80-90% of all cases are due to misidentification. UFOs turns out to be astronomical bodies like meteors, planets, stars or man-made flying objects, for example aircrafts, balloons or searchlights. A small part of all UFO sightings are also deliberate hoaxes, which has given the UFO sightings a bad name. Alien abductions and close contacts with aliens are explained by psychological reasons, such as dreaming or sleep paralysis.

Still, 10- 20% of all UFO sightings can not be explained by scientists. Since the UFO sightings are hard to predict and cannot be repeatedly tested (which the scientific method requires) and since most evidence of UFO are based on eyewitnesses, science has a hard time in classifying UFOs as a scientific phenomenon. The scientists (and the skeptical) rather apply the theory of Ockham’s razor, which says that you should always reach for the simplest and most straightforward conclusion.

Until then, the truth is out there.

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